Marian Homes opens fourth residence

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Betty Tabor and her husband bought the Fairfax house in 1968. Though only the exterior and the home's hearth remain the same, Tabor is proud of what the place has become.

The "Mother of Mercy Home" is the fourth for Marian Homes Inc. - a corporation established by the St. Mary of Sorrows Knights of Columbus Council to purchase and maintain homes for people with intellectual disabilities.

The smell of fresh paint greets all those who walk into the house. The floor is new hardwood. The space is open - the kitchen flows from the dining area to the family room to the wide hallways. Residents of the all-male home have bedspreads featuring cars and animals.

On the day of the grand opening, a blue ribbon wrapped around the wheelchair ramp running up to the front door. The Knights of Columbus and supporters such as Tabor, her son Rob Tabor and former neighbor Lucy Tisdale were there to celebrate the success of a fourth home opening June 17.

"Being here (is) partly reminiscent of when we lived here, but now the purpose of this house going forward will be a refuge for people with disabilities. And that's really the blessing," said Rob.

Knights from numerous councils spent more than 300 hours preparing the house for renovations and construction to accommodate the residents. A contractor completed all the other required work. All of the Marian Homes are operated by CHIMES International.

Chairman of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Robert Schwaninger, praised the project. "(Members of Marian Homes) do great work, they do it well, they do it efficiently, they do it on time and they do it for a great cause. That's the kind of partner I want to have," said Schwaninger. "Give me another one of these to fund."

Father James S. Barkett, pastor of St. Mary of Sorrows Church, prayed over the home and sprinkled holy water throughout the building.

Robert L. Dupwe, chairperson of CHIMES Virginia, has a son who will be living in Mother of Mercy. Every time they passed by, his son Tim would rub his hands in excitement and anticipation.

Usually, Dupwe explained to the crowd, a child is born, grows up and leaves the nest. "It's a little different for people who have a child that's developmentally disabled," he said. Just like all parents, "You worry so much - what's going to happen to my child when I'm gone?"

Dupwe is grateful his son is able to have space of his own and a welcoming community outside his parents' place. Though his son is physically able, the handicapped accessibility of the home gives him comfort that Tim will be able to live there for a long time.

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016