Two blocks from Moore Homestead Park in the heart of Elmhurst, the entrance to the Queens Adult Care Center is littered with cigarette butts, and people who appear to have nothing better to do than smoke them. Neighbors surrounding the 361-bed facility complain that residents beg for money, urinate in public and sit on parked cars.
Under new management since 2002, the facility has undergone renovations and is now seeking to broaden enrichment programs to transition some residents to the point of independence.
A newly constructed kitchen and laundry room remain untouched, behind two locked doors on the second floor. Barbara Faron, chief executive officer of Federation of Organizations (an independent not-for-profit welfare agency that provides onsite programming, social services and advocacy), said these facilities were designed to reintroduce basic life skills.
"Our primary focus is to work with the people in the adult homes to improve their quality of life, as they see fit," said Faron. "We are in the public sector, where consequences of long-term, serious mental illness and poverty converge."
The classes plan to bring together small groups of residents to teach how to shop for food, budget money, make nutritious decisions, and prepare a simple meal. Many advocacy groups for the mentally ill emphasize independence and employment as primary paths to recovery.