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LI home being built for the Bennetts, who adopted 13 kids with special needs

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Patchogue Home Groundbreaking (1)

The Bennett family already had four kids.

But that didn’t stop them from over the course of decades adopting 13 more, all with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including Down syndrome.

The kids have since grown older, and so has their mom, Marlyn, who’s 79. But now they’ll be able to stay together under one roof at 160 Gerard Street in Patchogue Village. For the rest of their lives.

This is all thanks to tireless work and generous donations of time and money on the part of Independent Group Home Living, the Village of Patchogue, Knapp-Swezey Foundation and Island Outreach Foundation.

Representatives from all the groups, along with the Bennett children, gathered at a special groundbreaking ceremony Monday for a new group home for the Bennetts.

The nearly 6,000-square-foot, 12-bedroom house is being constructed by Bob Conklin of The Flagg Group. It was designed by Jerry Rumplick of AIA, according officials to Independent Group Home Living, a not-for-profit.

“We have partnered with IGHL for years to recommend and organize special programs and services for the kids,” said Marilyn Bennett. “So, when the time came to make a long-term plan for them, I knew IGHL would find a solution. I cannot express enough gratitude to IGHL for keeping my family together.

“It is such a comfort to know they will be together and so well taken care of in a lovely home.”

The new Independent Group Home Living Patchogue residence will include medical gases and a patient lifting system (H-Frame) for six bedrooms to support those who require extensive care, officials said.

Enhanced nursing services will be available as needed. Clinical services also include physical, speech, music, and recreation therapy. The trained direct support professional staff will assist with activities of daily living and independent living skills, which are incorporated into a specially designed in-home day program.

In addition, the day program provides meaningful recreational and social opportunities, an announcement reads.

In 1984, the life expectancy of someone with Down Syndrome was 28 years old. Today that number is 60 years old. As the life expectancy for people living with disabilities continues to increase, there will be many caregivers, like Marilyn Bennett, questioning their children’s future path.

“My children will each have their own rooms – which will be a first for them – dedicated staff and all of the tools needed to help take care of them,” Bennett said. “I cannot wait to see the joy on their faces when the home is complete.”

— photo courtesy of Independent Group Home Living

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