Saturday, January 29, 2022

Tough Adjustment:                By MALLORY
Perry man copes as longtime group home suspended amid staffing crisis

Matthew Duboy had lived at the Koscieiniak IRA group home on Handley Street for 15 years. For 15 years he had a routine.

That was until Nov. 30 when his parents Karen and Dave Duboy received a call from the Finger Lakes Developmental Disabilities Service Office in Leicester that the Koscieiniak IRA was being closed.

The state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which oversees the group homes, says Koscieiniak is suspended as the agency continues to deal with staffing shortages. The suspension, meant Matthew and the other 10 residents would be moved to the nearby Perry IRA in 11 days.

“(Matthew) is a very routine kid,” Karen said. “Trying to get him established in (Perry IRA) has taken a lot of extra work on everybody.”

Matthew didn’t know he would be moving. His mother said there was no way to prepare her son for it; Matthew doesn’t have the cognitive skills to understand, which makes maintaining a routine vital.

The changes – and challenges – have not been limited to the Koscieiniak and Perry IRA homes. Closures and combining of residences has become and increasingly common occurrence across the state.

The state reduced the OPWDD workforce by about 15 percent from 2009 to 2020. The direct care staff have been working double, triple and even quadruple shifts during COVID. Group homes started to close in 2020 with the vast majority in 2021. In the GLOW region, eight group homes have closed or been temporarily suspended since 2019, with seven of them happening in 2021.

Officials at OWPDD cite the ongoing staffing shortages as the reason for the suspensions.

“OPWDD and our provider agencies, as well as most human services organizations across the country, are facing a workforce shortage of crisis proportions,” Jennifer O’Sullivan, director of communications of OPWDD, said in a statement to The Daily News. “To accommodate for severe staffing shortages at both homes, the Koscielniak group home was temporarily consolidated with the Perry group home, which is located only one mile away, on Dec. 28. While these are temporary consolidations, they will remain in place until such time that we can achieve safe and appropriate staffing levels to support both homes.”

O’Sullivan said the size of each group home is determined by its approved operating capacity. The number of individuals served within that capacity depends upon the needs of the people that reside within the home.

The typical range is from four to 14 residents, with some exceptions statewide. In certain circumstances — such as the current staffing crisis — OPWDD can seek to expand capacity in order to assure necessary staff coverage to meet the needs of the people being served.

O’Sullivan said emergency temporary group home consolidations are never the first option and are only considered when other efforts to achieve appropriate staffing levels have not been successful.

Matthew does not take change in his routine very well — his Down Syndrome, OCD, language delayed, and processing delay issues make it extremely difficult to just pack up and move. He needs processing time and transition periods, his mother explained.

Matthew didn’t know he was moving homes until he arrived at Perry IRA. “You could see in his eyes he wasn’t quite sure what was going on,” Karen said.

Karen said they tried to keep him in the same routine. They took photos of his room to make sure they got all the details right of how he liked it.

Karen explained Matthew can’t be confused on which way to go. His routine in the morning was go to the laundry room, wash his clothes and return to his room to get started for the day.

The new staff didn’t realize this, and when Matthew got up he was wandering around the house. So, they gave him directions to get ready for work.

“They didn’t understand he has to have his routine. He didn’t know where the laundry room was,” she explained. “Once the staff understood — the new staff because we have new staff on board — they understood, ‘Come on Matt, here is the laundry room.’ They had to teach him where the laundry room was.”

Karen said after he gets ready, Matthew comes down and sits in the kitchen and has to have a particular spot. Other people can’t be sitting where he likes to sit every morning, because if Matthew was to walk into the kitchen and find someone sitting in his chair he would get very upset.

“Things have settled down,” Karen said. “It’s still really hard for many of them at the house because it’s a total disruption. I mean he went from a house of 11 to now 22.”

Karen compared the change to attending

a new school where you don’t know everyone. In her opinion, she said it’s not a home. It’s a facility. Years ago, Karen said the Perry IRA was an intermediate care facilities (ICF). She said when people think of ICFs, nursing homes come to mind and bedridden people. It wasn’t designed to make it look like a home, she said.

“The hard part for us is we could have brought Matthew home,” Karen said. “It would have worked around my work schedule. But there was no guarantee in writing that I would have a bed back when (the staffing situation) got better.”

Karen said the whole purpose of finding a home for Matthew was so he could find his independence, and if something should happen to her and Dave, he has a home. They were told years ago they needed to plan for Matthew’s future because if they unexpectedly pass, New York could put him anywhere in the state they want.

“I see him losing his independence because he’s still getting to know this huge house,” Karen said, choking up. “He sometimes waits for people to tell him (what to do next). He doesn’t know what to expect next sometimes.”

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Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.


Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.


"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.


Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit

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