Photo for A Blooming Success April 12, 2024 A Blooming Success View this Post
dddcd

Spring has sprung! The flowers are changing, and the weather is getting warmer. To celebrate the season coming into bloom, Gabriel Homes held its first-ever spring fling. 

Residents from all six homes showed up in their finest attire, and some brought their plus-ones. The gentlemen kept it classy by donning the classic suit-and-tie combo. Lucy shined in her sparkly cardigan and star necklace, and January captured the season’s spirit by wearing her dress adorned with spring flower patterns. 

But the party truly kicked off when karaoke started. Everyone was competing for the microphone so they could belt their favorite songs. 

Rich had the crowd jamming along when he sang Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.” Then Sara showed her love for musicals with the group when she sang “All Is Found” from Frozen 2. The night’s biggest surprise was Joe showing off his powerful bass voice when he sang “Driver’s Seat” by Sniff ‘N’ the Tears. 

January embraced her inner popstar throughout the night. When she sang “We Are Family,” the crowd was up and clapping. After singing, January was on her feet the entire night dancing along to each song. She mixed classic waltzes with funky disco steps, and she lit up the room with her energy. 

When leaving the party, Sara said she had “almost too much fun!” Shelby echoed Sara by asking staff when the next party was. 

If you’re interested in helping Gabriel Homes with our next dance, see how you can get involved as a volunteer with us. 

Photo for Gabriel Homes Announces New Logo and Launch of New Gabrielhomes.org April 6, 2024 Gabriel Homes Announces New Logo and Launch of New Gabrielhomes.org View this Post
dddcd

New Logo

Reston, Va., April 8, 2024 -- Gabriel Homes, Inc. (GHI), a leading housing provider for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), is excited to unveil its new logo and the launch of the new gabrielhomes.org. 

The new logo, featuring a house sheltering a tree, represents GHI and the residents’ growth over 40 years. The roots of GHI’s success come from the community, who have volunteered their time to empower the residents. 

Gabriel Homes and the residents change the way that leaves change every season,” said Lynn Davis, executive director of GHI. “With our new logo, we also celebrate the community for nurturing our residents and empowering our organization. Lynn Davis Lynn Davis Executive Director

New Website

Additionally, the new website features a modern design and easy navigation so visitors can learn more about the organization and adults with disabilities. New to the website are stories about the residents. For decades, residents have been active in the Greater Reston community through their activities, workplaces, and places of worship. 

Our website comes alive when we show stories of residents living their best lives,” said Michele Bolos, chair of GHI. “When you dive into the stories, you see how people of all abilities can contribute to their communities in fulfilling ways. Michele Bolos Michele Bolos Board of Directors

The website will continue receiving updates, including news on IDD-related policies, stories from residents, and milestones achieved by GHI. 

Photo for Gabriel Homes Resident Celebrates 30 Years Working at Walmart April 4, 2024 Gabriel Homes Resident Celebrates 30 Years Working at Walmart View this Post
dddcd

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers typically stay with their employers for about 4.1 years. Now imagine someone working at the same place for over seven times the average length of time! 

30th Anniversary

In March, one of our residents, John, celebrated his 30th anniversary working at the Walmart in Fairfax.  

“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years,” John said. He joked, “I’m not old enough to believe I’ve worked there that long!” 

For three decades, every day brought new challenges for John. One day he delivered food at the deli and bakery, and another he helped with returns at customer service. The responsibilities changed each shift, and John was ready to step up for the tasks.

John goes out of his way to help everyone he sees,” said Sujit, general manager at Walmart. “He’s the first one in and last one out at work. I often see him sweeping up before leaving. He’s nice to everybody and is a great role model for our staff.

Sujit, Walmart General Manager

John is a joy

Looking back on his favorite memories at work, John recalled when they celebrated his birthdays each August. Coworkers would take him out to lunch and often surprised him with cake for dessert. 

“John is a joy to be around,” said Ramona, a long-time coworker. “We have long talks together about our days or family visits. He’s great at what he does and is a special friend.” 

Memories

Each time John returned to work, he enjoyed making new memories with shoppers and staff. At the end of the shift, John looked back and shared how he was looking forward to the next one. He said that although shoppers and staff may come and go, he makes new memories with everyone he sees. 

“My coworkers told me, if they didn’t have me, Walmart would fall apart,” John said, smiling. 

Want to learn more about the daily lives of other residents? Check out what a day in the life looks like! 

Photo for Quality of Life is Critical at Gabriel Homes April 4, 2024 Quality of Life is Critical at Gabriel Homes View this Post
dddcd

In 2022, homeowners spent an average of nearly $6,000 on home repairs and maintenance. The rising costs of materials and services aren’t making it any cheaper today. 

At Gabriel Homes, prioritize our residents’ safety and wellbeing. Part of helping residents on their path to independence is maintaining their well-kept homes. Our homes are more than buildings with services; they’re houses in the community where people live their lives. 

Passmore Contracting

Recently, one of our homes had water leaking from the roof. The leaks didn’t directly affect the residents, but Gabriel Homes took swift action to get the roof patched up. 

Passmore Contracting came to the rescue with roughly a dozen workers spread out across the home. With Board Member Gary LeFrancois’ oversight, the roof was fixed faster than expected. It was thought that the repairs would take several days, but the team made the finishing touches by the evening. 

The group home now has a newly finished roof over our residents’ heads, set to last over 30 years. 

“It’s our responsibility to make sure projects are safe and done right,” Gary said. “The new roof will function well for years to come, and now we can move on to new projects.”

Gary LeFrancois, Board Member

Investing in our Homes

Think about how you take care of your home. Sometimes you may need to make repairs; other times, you may need to spend some money to keep the house in tip-top shape. 

At Gabriel Homes, we don't pressure residents to worry about home repairs. We have their backs so they can focus on building their independence and living healthy, comfortable lives. 

Learn more about our homes and their amenities at gabrielhomes.org

Photo for Walking With Gabriel Homes March 13, 2024 Walking With Gabriel Homes View this Post
dddcd

Relaxing your body and mind

Studies show that walking every day can relax your body and mind. At Gabriel Homes, our residents can head straight from their homes onto beautiful walking trails. The fresh air often provides a nice break from their daily routines indoors. 

In the afternoon, you can find Gabriel Homes residents taking walks alone or with their friends. Over at Gabriel Homes #4 (GH4), you’ll find residents John B., John H., and Rich taking daily strolls with Lucy from GH8. The quartet is diligent about getting their steps in, especially when it’s sunny. They often go for longer walks when the days are warm and the evenings are long. 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. John Doe Designer

“It’s something we’ve done together for years,” says John H. “The area is easy to walk around, and we enjoy waving to all the families who live nearby.”

John H.

At our own pace

Everyone goes at their own pace to burn off energy as they need. For example, Lucy is the leader of the pack. She walks several dozen paces ahead of the gentlemen and waits at every stop sign or crosswalk for them to catch up. 

On the other hand, John B. is the caboose. He walks more slowly than the rest of the crew, so John H. and Rich accommodate him by walking together.  

“It’s what friends do,” Rich says. “Including John on our walks helps us all stay on track. We keep each other motivated so we’re excited to walk again tomorrow!” 

Learn more about what a typical day looks like for our residents. 

Photo for The Heart of Reston March 5, 2024 The Heart of Reston View this Post
dddcd

All Are Welcome

Being involved in your community isn’t just good for your mind and body; it also helps you live longer. Many Gabriel Homes residents stay in touch with their friends through their communities.

Some friend groups have lasted for years because of the support of organizations like St. John Neumann Church (SJN) in Reston.

SJN’s saying is “all are welcome.” The church accepts people of all backgrounds, including adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Some are a part of the ministries and youth groups, and others serve as officers for committees. 

Many residents meet every other Sunday at SJN to read the gospel and attend Mass. The early birds regroup after services and eat breakfast together, hosted by the Knights of Columbus.  

“St. John Neumann is a great parish because it’s inclusive to everybody,” said George Dellagiarino, a long-time volunteer at SJN. “The residents feel part of the community and feel recognized through all the ways they can get involved.”

One resident, Rich, wears many hats for SJN. He’s an officer for the local Knights of Columbus chapter and church choir member. Occasionally, he sits in on adapted religious education classes. The program teaches the Catholic faith and shares the gospel to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Rich, who’s friends with a few students in the class, helps with tasks like passing out workbooks.

“I’m happy at Saint John Neumann. It's the best Catholic church around, and I have a lot of friends here. It’s the heart of Reston.”

Rich, Resident

Sarah, a resident at Gabriel Homes, meeting the Archbishop.

Bob and Joanne Abbott, two SJN members, consider Rich a close friend of theirs. 

“He comes over for Easter with our whole family, and he supports members when they’ve lost somebody,” Bob said. “He does the kinds of things that long-time friends do.” 

Whether meeting for Mass or stepping up in committees during the week, the residents have built lifelong bonds with the SJN community. SJN, in turn, has stepped up to let them leave their marks on the church. 

“When you see Gabriel Homes at Mass, you see the community come together around them,” Joanne said. “The residents are such valuable members to the church because they give so much of their time to you.” 

Now that you know about Sunday mornings, see what a day in the life is like for our residents on weekdays. 

Photo for A Striking Success March 2, 2024 A Striking Success View this Post
dddcd

When you play team sports, you can improve your mental health and foster a close-knit community. One Gabriel Homes resident, Dave, bowls for a team in a league of some of his closest friends. The league consists of 22 teams, each with four bowlers. Competitors like Dave meet every Wednesday night over a 30-week season at the Bowlero in Fairfax. 

Bowling has always been one of my favorite sports. I love rolling the ball and watching the pins get hit. The sound is so satisfying.

Dave

It’s How He Rolls

David Whitcomb, one of Dave’s teammates, has bowled with Dave for over five years. Since they first met, Whitcomb says he’s seen Dave’s average score per game increase by over 20 points. 

“After each game, Dave gets on his phone and writes down all his scores,” Whitcomb says. “He’s always talking about his averages going up. I get a thumbs-up from him whenever he reaches a new high score.” 

Dave stays open to feedback so he can roll more strikes. Whitcomb spends extra time working on his stances like elbow positions so he can have more control over the ball when he rolls it. 

“Bowling has gotten into our blood,” Whitcomb says, chuckling. “I want to see him get better each week, and he gets better over time. The other night, he bowled a turkey, which means he rolled three strikes in a row!”

David Whitcomb

The Community Lane

Beyond just bowling, Dave enjoys chatting and making friends. He plays the part of the Bowlero mayor; he goes out of his way to visit everyone’s lanes and check in on his friends. 

“Dave is our biggest cheerleader,” says Aileen Hedden, a friend from another team. “When he comes by our lane, he asks us what our scores are because he wants us to succeed as well.” 

The league isn't competitive, which means huge cash prizes aren’t at stake. Having lower stakes keeps every night’s mood upbeat. Groups often celebrate when their friends roll strikes. 

“He’s super positive,” says Tony Stephens, Hedden’s husband and teammate. “I like to cheer him on when it’s his turn to bowl, and he does the same for me. Dave is a ray of sunshine around everyone.” Still, many bowlers want to compete and win, and Dave is known for his friendly banter with those close to him. “He’s a big trash talker,” Whitcomb jokes. “He puts his arm around you and lets you know you’re going down when you face off against him.” 

Looking One Pin Ahead

Once everyone turns in their shoes and packs up their equipment, Dave is already asking about next week’s matchup. 

“I can always expect a text from Dave the next morning,” Whitcomb says with a laugh. “He asks me who we face next week and what place in the league we’re in. The next competition is already in his sight.” 

Hedden and Stephens agree that Dave being in the league makes everyone feel welcome. Both consider their friend group at Bowlero to be their community and look forward to the following Wednesday as much as Dave does. 

“I just love bowling,” says Dave. “I may be competitive, but I love seeing my friends and cheering them on.”

Want to compete in sports and make a difference?

Learn about how you can sign up for our annual golf tournament, where proceeds go toward Gabriel Homes.

Learn More
Photo for Special Olympics Powerlifting February 24, 2024 Special Olympics Powerlifting View this Post
dddcd

The Special Olympics says powerlifting is more than deadlifts, squats, or bench presses. Athletes must train every week and be persistent if they want to stay in shape.

Every Tuesday evening, you’ll see Gabriel Homes residents powerlifting at IMP Fitness in Fairfax. Two residents, Patrick and Chris, are best friends who always warm up together on the treadmill. Chris says powerlifting is easier when he can train with his friends. 

“I feel stronger after every training session,” Chris says. “The trainers doubled my weights from the ones I used on my first day, so I'm proud that I’ve grown from where I started.” 

For Patrick, lifting is the hard part, so his equipment prevents him from getting injured and missing training. 

When you’re powerlifting, safety is everything,” Patrick says. “My gloves protect my hands and make it easier to hold the weights. The belt protects my waist and supports my back so I don't fall over when I lift.

After their workouts, Patrick and Chris reflect on their training session. Both find powerlifting rewarding because they enjoy empowering each other and their friends every week. 

“Everyone should try powerlifting,” Chris says. “Start with lighter weights and try heavier ones once lifting feels easy. You don’t need to compete in the Olympics to get strong and have fun at the gym!” 

Read more from the trainers at IMP Fitness and see why they volunteer their time with Gabriel Homes. 

Photo for The Power of Lifting February 24, 2024 The Power of Lifting View this Post
dddcd

Being a head coach is more than just a title for Seth Abrams and Tim Figueroa. It’s a role filled with purpose and impact. 

Powerlifting

Every Tuesday night the duo leads powerlifting sessions for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at IMP Fitness. Residents at Gabriel Homes join them each week to get in shape and train for the Special Olympics. Some residents attend state and national competitions under their leadership. 

Abrams has been involved with Gabriel Homes for over 20 years. When he moved to the area, he wanted somewhere to train. He found his calling when he saw an ad for the Special Olympics, and he’s been coaching ever since. Keeping the residents focused on getting stronger has been one of his favorite challenges. 

“You have to be able to read their body language and see if they can push themselves. Sometimes being with their friends gets them going. On other days, you can see it in their faces. I push with them when I see they’re ready to go.

Seth Abrams

Joy

Seeing the joy on the residents’ faces every week, Figueroa has taken pride in being someone they trust. He’s trained with Gabriel Homes for over six years, and he first found it hard to connect with residents because they had their guards up. But because he showed up at every practice, he saw the residents gradually get motivated with him. 

Over time, the results in the gym got better and better. 

 

“The best part is when we’re in competition. When I see the athletes doing their reps and I see that glimmer in their eyes, I feel like their guardian angel. They step up when they're on the biggest stage, and I’m proud to cheer them on.

Tim Figueroa

Competition

Once the residents headed back from the competition, Abrams saw that every resident got stronger in more ways than strength.  

“I’m fulfilled when the residents are smiling after our sessions,” Abrams said. “The results may not be the same every week, but I care more about them having fun and looking forward to next week’s training.”

Get involved with Gabriel Homes and share your favorite skills! Learn more about how to lead workshops with residents.

Photo for Tips and Tricks for Move-in at Gabriel Homes February 21, 2024 Tips and Tricks for Move-in at Gabriel Homes View this Post
dddcd

There’s no doubt you’ll have questions about getting them started for their move right away, so here are some tips and tricks to make your move-in process a breeze: 

The stress of moving

Moving is the most stressful event in people’s lives according to a 2020 survey. It doesn’t get any easier when you’re trying to help your family settle into their new home. 

At Gabriel Homes, we make the transition for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities as easy as possible. Residents can make themselves at home right away and express themselves when they design their bedrooms. 

Dwight, the brother of a resident

“Our sister’s transition into her new home was seamless,” said Dwight, the brother of a Gabriel Homes resident. “As far as moving everything, it was a non-event for us because the staff and administrators were top-notch.”  

Teach Skills to Live by Yourself 

Let your family member try tackling some of the chores you’ve done for them on their own. Show them the different settings for whites and colors when doing laundry or teach them how to cook their favorite meal. If you have a family recipe, they can bring a taste of home with them wherever they go! 

Stay Up to Date on the Medicaid Waiver 

The Virginia Medicaid Wavier covers many services like Gabriel Homes for people with developmental disabilities. Remember to fill in everything and reach out to your support coordinator if you have any questions. However, you must complete the application every year to continue receiving support. 

Download and complete the Medicaid Wavier and learn more about applying at The Arc of Virginia’s website

Be Ready as a Family… 

…to let your family member be independent. They may make mistakes along the way, but they’ll be part of a community where they will learn and grow. You can help set them up for success by using supportive decision making – helping them make the smartest decisions on their own based on their preferences. 

Learn more about how to apply for Gabriel Homes by visiting our Prospective Residents page.