Picture yourself in a hospital delivery room, filled with excitement about becoming a parent. In an instant, joy turns to angst as the doctor informs you your child was born with an illness or a disability. You lose touch with friends, become engulfed in hospital treatments and your life is nothing you ever imagined it would be. You’re left with no way of caring for the child you love more than anything in world, both monetarily and physically, because the only treatment centers are out of state. This scenario prompted the founding of Angela’s House, dedicated to improve the quality of life for families and children with a severe disability or medical condition.
“As a parent, you’re left wondering, ‘What now? Where do I go?'” said Bob Palicastro, founder of Angela’s House. “We’re here to put our arms around those families, and give them as much support in every way we can.”
What type of services does Angela’s House offer children and their families?
For children that cannot live at home, we have two homes that offer 24-hour nursing support. Seven children live in the East Moriches home and eight in Smithtown. We worked in collaboration with Independent Group Home Living to design these facilities like regular homes – a standard living room and den, along with nursing stations and other medical necessities. For the children living with their parents at home, we assist them through our “Care at Home” program. Nurses come into families’ homes and help them coordinate everything. The nurses will arrange for all medical supplies, therapeutic equipment, nursing services, and make home modifications to help make them handicapped accessible (i.e. a wheelchair ramp).
It’s important to provide the information and resources to these families who have no idea what type of services or special Medicaid programs that may be available to help them.
Do you also serve as a support system for parents?
Absolutely. We encourage our staff to share that our nonprofit was formed by parents and that we understand what a family is going through. We feel it is very important to break down these barriers, and it’s encouraging to know that we were parents that also went through a tough time too. We are always thinking about the families we work with and to be sensitive to all the issues they must face. Last year, to help parents that have lost a child, we erected a statue called the “Angel of Hope” in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. The angel honors the children and the parents; it reflects a true, never-ending love between a parent and child, for these children will never be forgotten.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing?
One of our biggest challenges is disseminating information, getting the word out that we’re here and can help these families. It’s hard to explain to people who we are and which children we help. Last year we worked with 400 children. The problem is there is no one word to explain these children, there’s no specific term or label for these kids.
Twenty years ago, many children were living in hospitals for half their lives. Today we offer the resources to help parents improve the quality of life for their child. Whether we’re providing medical supplies, oxygen tanks, nurses, home health aides, monetary donations or connecting parents to one another, Angela’s House is a resource for both children and families.
Address: PO Box 5052, Hauppauge 11788
Founder: Bob Palicastro
Phone: (631) 979-2620
Web site: www.angelashouse.org
Paid staff: 26
Annual budget: $975,000
Fundraised budget: 30 percent
Program services: 91.8 percent