Home modification service is changing lives of New Yorkers with disabilities

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NEW YORK — Devin Cutugno didn’t always live on the second floor of his house in Staten Island.

"My mom passed away 10 years ago. We had to move up here. My sister was moving downstairs where we currently had lived for 25 years," Devin's mom Donna Cutugno said.

But when his family was faced with the life-changing move, they thought they could solve the problem of getting Devin up and down the stairs with a chair lift.

After meeting with about eight different companies, it seemed no one could make a chair lift work in the Cutugno’s house.

"So for almost two years, we were carrying Devin up and down the steps," Cutugno said.

Frustrated, they reached out to Adapt Community Network in the hope that the organization could help.

"Within a week they came here. They decided to knock out a window in the master bedroom and put a two-story lift, which was very very unusual," Cutugno said.

It was a similar situation for the Williams family in Queens.

While Shonette Williams was in school, she received a porter service that helped her in and out of her house and onto the school bus.

But her family struggled the rest of the time.

"There was always that nervous feeling anytime you have to go to doctor's appointment. Every time you want to take her out it's always, 'Is there someone to help me?' And of course, it takes a toll on your entire body," Yonette Williams said.

Thanks to Adapt Community Network’s Doorways to Independence program, the Williams family qualified for a wheelchair ramp.

"Our lives have changed for the best. It's not a luxury. It’s a necessity dealing with someone in a wheelchair," Williams said.

Annie Rivera is the program director for Doorways to Independence.

"Adapt Community Network has been doing this for over 20 years. I think it’s one of the best parts of my job that we’re able to see the type of impact that even the smallest of modifications can have on a family," Rivera said.

She said modifications like a wheelchair ramp, or a wheelchair lift, help keep people in their homes and costs thousands of dollars, compared to the average nursing home rate of $148,000 a year.

"For us to be able to come in and in several weeks be able to help them, can’t put a price on that," Rivera said.

Cutugno can't fathom a life without this help.

"I wonder what would I have done without it. I mean, honestly, we could not have afforded to put this in our home by ourselves. It made a world of difference, it really did​," Cutugno said.

If you are interested in finding out more about the program, or if you would like to apply,  you can contact our Project Connect Intake line 877-827-2666.