Change the World

Our blog about working together to help people with vulnerabilities live rewarding lives.

Family Reunited after 10 years: David’s Story

David Guzman, a resident at Irving IRA, had the opportunity to live out a long standing dream of his. Upon moving to Irving IRA in 2014, David shared with staff, “I miss my parents and wish they could come to my new home.” David’s parents reside in Florida and making the trip up north has been a challenge for them. David has not seen his parents for the past 10 years.

In partnership with Howie A’brail, Site Supervisor, Tami Amodio, Behavior Clinician, Irving staff and most importantly, David himself, David was able to remain focused on his goals. His goals included: successfully transitioning into his new home, sustaining appropriate social skills, money management, and gaining independence in living skills. With great team work, and David’s determination to meet these goals, David’s dream of re-uniting with his parents came to life!

Howie Abrial stepped in as the travel agent and Tami Amodio obtained the necessary approvals from OWPPD for David to spend time with his parents outside of the agency.  In March 2015, David’s  parents arrived in N.Y. on the train in Hudson. With assistance from Howie, they obtained lodging in a nearby hotel for 10 days. Upon arrival, a delicious home cooked meal was prepared by staff member, Pat Byrne. David was ecstatic to see his parents sitting at his dining room table and enjoyed having his parents meet all of his house members and staff.

The Irving staff members continued to be graciously hospitable by providing David and his parent’s transportation for their entire stay to outings of their choice.

The dreamlike week for David and his parents consisted of trips to the mall, long walks in the beautiful Hudson Valley, taking in a couple of movies and quality visits at David’s home.

The vacation ended with an admirable collaboration of a special dinner at a Japanese Hibachi Grill in Middletown NY. David and his family were accompanied by Katariina Hoaas, Vice President Program Services, Yvette Figueroa,/Director Community Outreach Services and Pat Byrne (DSP 4, of seven years) .

David’s mother and father told staff that they could not be more proud of David since his move to the Irving IRA. They are proud of his accomplishments and remarkable changes and progress.

After not seeing each other for ten years, this visit has encouraged the family to never let that much time pass again in between visits. His parents are planning another trip to visit, but this time they are planning on taking David to his sister’s home in CT for an extended family reunion. It is also their intention to arrange (with the help of Irving staff) a trip for David to visit his parents at their home in Florida.


“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” Christopher Reeve

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