Relaxing after spending his day at a work-study program for students on the Autism Spectrum, 19- year-old Jared Simione can't wait for the summer break.
"What are we looking forward to doing this summer?” said Jared’s Mom, Anna Simione to her son.
“Going on a Trip."
Jared's Mom is the Principal at Saint Teresa School, where plans are in the works to turn an old convent into housing for young adults with Autism.
Saint Teresa’s Parish teamed up with diocese’s healthcare agency, Arch Care, to help students like Jared.
“It's important that he has his own independence, he wants independence he wants to have his own friends and his own thing to do and be on his own so to have something like this is a blessing,” said Anna Simione, the Principal Saint Teresa School.
Fifty years ago the convent housed nuns who taught at the school.
After Hurricane Sandy, it was temporarily used for emergency relief workers.
But for the last 3 years, it has sat empty. So the Church thought a home for Adults with Autism would be a great fit.
“I just think it's a great way to live the gospel what you do for my brothers you do for me. The Autism community is pretty neglected in a way. The government can provide some help but they're not going to be able to do everything,” said Monsignor William Belford, with St. Teresa Parish.
The convent would be converted into units for 8-10 Highly Functioning Adults with Autism aged 21 and older. They would live in their own apartments, under the supervision of healthcare professionals.
“Once these individuals reach 21 many of the supports they've had their entire life, go away and there isn't housing for them, so this provides that opportunity, and it provides some comfort to their aging parents,” said Scott LaRue, the CEO or ArchCare.
The parish hopes a program like this might inspire others to replicate it elsewhere.
“I hope when our children are more integrated into society and neighborhood that people see how wonderful they are and what great neighbors they'll make,” said Simione.
Interior renovations will cost between $2.5 to $3.5 million dollars. The plan is to start construction by January 2018, and have the first residents move in a year later.