Meet the Residents
Our constituency is a diverse cross section of adults among the five boroughs of New York City. Our members range from younger adults in their 20’s to older seniors. Many have had careers and post-secondary education. Constituents are People of Color, LatinX, Asian and immigrants from a variety of ethnic origins. They are cis women and cis men as well as members of the LGTBQ+ spectrum of self-identification. Many survive on limited income and navigate age-related health issues, chronic illnesses, and mental health diagnoses. The experience of adults living in institutionalized settings, can be one of stigmatization and infantilization which robs them of independence, individuality, and decision-making power.
Barbara Murray “I’ve met with tragic circumstances and bouts of mental illness throughout my life. As a result, I lived in an adult home for 33 years. Because of what I learned from CIAD, in September 2020, I was able to move to my own beautiful one-bedroom apartment in Far Rockaway. I am currently working as a CIAD Peer Advocate. CIAD has played an instrumental role in my finding—finally—the promise of a fulfilling present and future. Living in an adult home often brings with it despair and hopelessness. I lived with these feelings for years. I thought there was no way out and that no matter how much I improved myself, I was stuck in a home. It took a lot of time and work to get to where I am today.
As a Peer Advocate, I am able to teach other residents about independent living. Then the O’Toole v. Cuomo federal lawsuit and settlement offered me and thousands of other residents the promise of an apartment. I waited my turn. I did get an apartment and now I can say thank youto CIAD!CIAD gave me a job when I felt useless. They told me I mattered and have something to contribute to others. They also made housing possible. Then they hired me as a Peer Advocate which allows me to give back.
I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Geoff and all CIAD staff and members, and I fervently believe that we all make a precious contribution to those in adult homes, nursing homes, and apartment programs who are often lonely, neglected, or needy in many ways. Their lives are better because we care.”
Bob Rosenberg“I have a rare form of cerebral palsy and several chronic health problems. I was a self-employed insurance broker for 30 years before a stroke landed me in a nursing home. When I was elected Vice President of the Resident Council there, I was introduced to CIAD and their staff and benefited from a CIAD resident council training course.It took me two years to learn how to walk again. With CIAD’s guidance, I was able to move out of the nursing home and into an adult home. CIAD was there for me again when they gave me the opportunity and guided me through the process to move out into a supported housing studio apartment. It was a 10-year odyssey for me from the nursing home to my own home.CIAD advocates, lobbies andmost importantly, empowers residents to become independent, stand up for their rights and help solve their problems. CIAD also makes dreams come true. I am living proof.”
“As a 59 year old Hispanic woman with a disability, I have worked as a Counselor and Adjunct Professor at LaGuardia Community College for 20 years. My retirement worsened my disability. I was hospitalized, and a fire landed me in my first Adult Home. There I was miserable and mistreated.
I lived in the second Adult Home for 12 years. For the first couple of years, I was lost and too depressed to even care about eating. I woke up when CIAD and Mobilization for Justice (MFJ) did their Residents’ Rights Training. Rights? I didn’t know I had rights. As a person with a Mental Health diagnosis, too many of my rights were not respected. I wasn’t aware I had rights to fight for until they introduced me to the Adult Home Residents’ Bill of Rights.
Soon after, I joined the Resident Council and took office as the Vice President and later the President. I became very familiar with CIAD’s efforts to advocate for residents’ rights. They helped me understand my role in the RC, and I learned how to help others assert their rights. As a result, we fought for and made strides in improving the quality of food and the quality of life at this home. With CIAD’s help, I learned to fight for the money owed to me by the home from my disability check and help others understand their financial standing with the home.
I started training and working for CIAD as a Peer Advocate while still living in the home. I was able to utilize my skills running independent skill training, called Taking Control, in the adult home for those wishing to move out or those who just want to become more independent. During COVID, we could not run the workshops, so we began a Support line to continue our advocacy efforts. Following the interruptions from Covid19, we will renew the independent skill training workshops and I will help lead the charge.
I am now living in the community thanks to CIAD’s support. I live in a beautiful apartment that is wheelchair accessible for my partner and is in a great area, close to everything. I am very grateful.”
Former Resident Council President, Board of Directors, and dearly missed.
As told by our Executive Director Geoff Lieberman
Norman Bloomfield was the accomplished Resident Council President at Surf Manor Home for Adults for many years and a long-standing member of CIAD’s Board of Directors. He was fearless, brilliant, and exacting. He had a sharp and impish wit.
He could have moved out of Surf Manor but chose not to, even though he was a fierce and knowledgeable advocate for supportive housing for adult home residents. Indeed, he helped many Surf Manor residents successfully navigate the O’Toole Settlement process into their own apartments. Instead, he made a conscious decision to dedicate himself to helping residents by remaining in Surf Manor.
Given the opportunities he could have pursued, the charged circumstances of his life as a resident advocate that included a constant barrage of threats and intimidation, and the life he shared with others in a troubled home and a troubled system, it was an extraordinary decision — as grassroots and in the trenches as one could be.
He, more than most residents, demanded that he speak for himself, that all residents can and should tell their own stories. Few could do it as authoritatively or articulately. And there is plenty of evidence that he has left behind, from his testimony at court and government hearings, the tally of his Resident Council successes, his letters, live videotaped presentations and the media coverage he garnered.
Former Resident, Board Member & Staff, and dearly missed.
As told by our Executive Director Geoff Lieberman
Irene Kaplan was front and center at CIAD for twenty years. She served as a board member, Vice President and President of the organization. Outspoken and unafraid, she represented residents at countless meetings with state policy makers and at press conferences and played a vital role at CIAD Policy Committee meetings strategizing CIAD campaigns. She also worked to build bridges between adult home residents and their peers in the community with her service as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Bureau of Recipient Affairs of the New York State Office of Mental Health.
Like many residents, she ended up in an adult home because of a cascading succession of misfortunes – illness, loss of her job and home, and deepening depression.
“Living in an adult home was supposedly a temporary solution to homelessness,” she said at a NYS Assembly Hearing, “Getting into an adult home is easy. But getting out can be nearly impossible.”
Her description of life in an adult home represents many residents’ experiences, “I had a roof over my head, but I was not allowed true self-reliance or independence. Everything was done for me. I had my own apartment for over twenty years and had always worked but I was treated as if I was completely helpless, talked down to, infantilized, and unable to think for myself. You are not encouraged to move forward. Over time, this cuts into your self-confidence and you begin to doubt your ability to start over again, especially when you have a mental illness. CIAD was a lifeline for me. Without them I would not have had a ray of hope.”
She gave back by giving others hope through her years of service.
Woodrow “Woody” Wilson
Former Resident and President, and dearly missed.
As told by our Executive Director Geoff Lieberman
Woodrow Wilson was the powerful, steady, and eloquent voice for CIAD as the President of its Board for over 20 years. Everyone knew him as Woody. He presided over the many defining moments of the organization during that time: CIAD’s move to focus on adult home issues; our work leading up to and in the wake of the New York Times’ Pulitzer-Prize winning investigation of adult homes; the first Adult Home Resident Speak Out, still going strong after 15 years; air-conditioning residents’ rooms; giving resident councils significant power over the EQUAL Grants Program, and responding to the plight of 1,000 evacuated residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
I have fond memories of traveling with him across the state, to Binghamton, Long Island, and Staten Island, and getting lost along the way more often than not. But he kept the organization and me on track when it came to the important things: sticking to CIAD’s empowerment mission, and his clear-eyed vision of what can be achieved when residents work together. His strong and committed advocacy on behalf of the institutionalized aged and disabled was not confined to New York alone. He had a national impact as well, as a Board member of the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR), now The National Consumer Voice, and the National Senior Citizens’ Law Center, now Justice in Aging. NCCNHR awarded Woody the Janet Tulloch Advocacy Memorial Award, which recognized him as a champion for the rights of long-term care residents.
There are many things for which we can remember Woody. For me, the strongest memory of him will be his presence. He was tall in stature, and not only in the physical sense. He carried himself with a grace and dignity that belied the post-polio syndrome he lived with for many years. In his easy and unassuming, but leonine way, he commanded respect. It was the same way when he spoke. He didn’t need volume to get people to listen to him, even when he was addressing a large crowd. He epitomized the dignity and respect due to all adult home and nursing home residents. We were lucky to have him as our leader for so long, and we will miss him.