Albero House to be Dedicated on Sept. 19

Josh moves in to Albero House
Josh, who has multiple disabilities and uses a wheelchair to get around, came to live at St. Mary’s Home when he was 13. When his mother began looking into adult care for Josh, she found few options, The Albero House, St. Mary’s new building for adults, “is a lifesaver,” she said.

On Sept. 19, 2013, St. Mary’s Home will dedicate The Albero House, which fills a critical need for housing for adults who have severe disabilities. The public is invited to a ceremony at 10 a.m. at The Albero House on St. Mary’s campus, at 6171 Kempsville Circle in Norfolk. Tours of The Albero House will follow.

Groundbreaking-Debbie and Salim (2)The Home broke ground two years ago for the 10,000-square-foot expansion designed by PF&A Design. Josh became the first resident of The Albero House when he moved in to one of 12 private bedrooms on July 30, 2013. Several more residents are expected to begin living at The Albero House by the end of this year.

“I know he’s set,” said Josh’s mother, Nancy Stockner, who will give the keynote address at the dedication. “He’s here. He didn’t have to leave St. Mary’s,” where he has thrived under the 24-hour care.

St. Mary’s Home has been a safe harbor for children in need since its founding as an infant home during World War II. Now, the Home also is offering adults who have severe disabilities the comprehensive and expert care for which St. Mary’s is recognized nationwide.

Thanks to supporters from throughout the commonwealth, St. Mary’s now can provide a loving, secure future for adults with severe disabilities from across Virginia, including St. Mary’s own graduates, who had to find other places, such as nursing homes, to live after they turn 21.

“St. Mary’s Home offers a level of complex, professional care that families may find difficult to provide at home, and we do so in an atmosphere of warmth, nurturing and personal attention,” said CEO William C. Giermak. “With the opening of The Albero House, we have created another option for adults with disabilities.”

Supporters of “Embrace,” the $6 Million Campaign for St. Mary’s Home, contributed more than $3 million needed to build the expansion. The campaign also is raising $2 million to establish an endowment fund to protect against economic downturns and $1 million for annual operating costs.

IMG_9158The main benefactors of the adult home are St. Mary’s Director Carl M. Albero, a founder of the defense contracting company AMSEC and vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of Colonna’s Shipyard, and his wife, Carole Anne Albero, a retired special education teacher, St. Mary’s volunteer and member of St. Mary’s Auxiliary Board.

Other major supporters include St. Mary’s Auxiliary Board, Beazley Foundation, The Cabell Foundation in Richmond, Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Sentara Healthcare and Dominion Enterprises.

Albero House exterior 2The brick exterior of The Albero House matches the original St. Mary’s structure. The building was designed to meet the needs of adult residents and includes private bedrooms, a spacious common living area, a kitchen, an enclosed porch and a landscaped courtyard. Large windows flood the rooms and hallways with natural light. The heating and cooling system uses 20  geothermal wells that are 300 feet deep, helping to reduce St. Mary’s carbon footprint.


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While the cheerful blue-and-green interior of The Albero House was designed by Image Business Interiors, shipping company Maersk Line, Limited wanted to personalize Josh’s room. A group of employees decorated the room with an ocean theme, based on Josh’s likes, with input from his support coordinator at St. Mary’s and his mother. That act of generosity inspired another: A group of women who work for Chartway’s corporate office volunteered to decorate a room for Mercedez, who soon will be moving into The Albero House.

About St. Mary’s Home

St. Mary’s Home provides quality, specialized care within a homelike environment for Virginia children and adults with severe disabilities, so each person can achieve his or her fullest potential. Children and young adults who have severe intellectual and physical disabilities live, play, go to school and receive comprehensive long-term and respite care at the private, nonprofit St. Mary’s Home.

The Albero House at St. Mary’s opened in 2013 to provide care for adults over 21. With St. Mary’s expanding to embrace adult care, the organization’s name has been shortened from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children to St. Mary’s Home.

 

Congratulations, St. Mary’s Class of 2011

Principal Terry Lyle presents Josh with his diploma during the commencement ceremony in St. Mary’s Atrium. 

Friday was a day to celebrate Josh and Maurice, two young men who live at St. Mary’s Home, and to reflect on how far they have come as they prepare for their future.

“For most of us, living is relatively easy. We get up in the morning and get dressed and drive to work,” special educator Judith Green said during her keynote speech at the graduation ceremony for St. Mary’s Class of 2011.

“For Maurice and Joshua, it is not easy,” said Green, director of Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs, or SECEP. “They have struggled to live, they have to depend on others, and they have fought hard to get where they are today.”

Every child and young adult at St. Mary’s attends classes, either at the Home through a partnership with SECEP or at Norfolk and Virginia Beach public schools. Graduation signals the end of formal education for young people who are 21 or will turn 21 in the next year. Currently, young adults must find other living arrangements, such as group homes, before they turn 22, although St. Mary’s is planning to open an adult wing in 2012.

Families, guardians, staff, friends and other residents gathered in the Atrium for this year’s ceremony, which began with four of the younger children presenting colors and also included a video tribute featuring photos of the two graduates through the years.

The caregivers and teachers who knew the graduates the best shared a bit about them. “You haven’t really experienced St. Mary’s until you’ve met Maurice,”  who loves to sing and dance, said teacher Kimberley Curll; as if to prove her point, he smiled and vocalized and gestured exuberantly through much of the ceremony.

Nancy Bryan gave the family tribute. She said her son Josh has been a blessing and has  taught her to “learn to appreciate the small victories.” She also thanked the staff at St. Mary’s Home for taking good care of him.

Before the keynote speech, St. Mary’s CEO William C. Giermak noted that Green is retiring this year and said the Home was honored to have one of her last official acts be to speak at commencement.

Earlier Friday, the teaching staff presented Terry Lyle with a paver in her honor to celebrate her 10th anniversary as principal of  SECEP REACH (Raising  Expectations and Abilities for Children with Complex Health Needs). The paver has been placed along the walkway at St. Mary’s entrance.