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Knights open sixth home for people with intellectual disabilities

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Marian Homes President Bill Crowder knows he can’t create housing for all the people with disabilities in the area who need it. But he and the other members of Marian Homes, Inc. can create beautiful homes for five residents at a time. 

Their organization, which is comprised of men from the St. Mary of Sorrows Church Knights of Columbus Council 8600 in Fairfax, opened their sixth group home for people with intellectual disabilities July 27.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Father James S. Barkett, pastor, and other members of the St. Mary of Sorrows community celebrated the grand opening of the “Queen of Hope” Marian Home.

The Knights purchased the single-story Springfield home in February with help from Fairfax County’s Community Development Block Grant. The home was gutted by the Knights. Contractor Hensel Phelps renovated the home, making it handicapped-accessible. Five men who are housemates in another group home will move into the space this month. Crowder said they hope to have another house ready next summer. 

The Queen of Hope residence has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room and an office for Chimes staff, who manage group homes for the intellectually disabled, including the six Marian Homes.

During the grand opening, those who had a hand in the home’s completion were able to see the final product. Volunteer contractor and Knight Will McCool was able to look over the bathroom tile he installed. The residents proudly showed off their rooms to family and strangers alike. Resident Andy Mauerer plans to decorate his room with Redskins paraphernalia.

Tom Komara and his son, Tommy, both Knights from St. Mary of Sorrows, had torn out walls, floors and bathrooms with other Knights. Tommy remembers wielding a sledgehammer in a bathroom that has now become a bedroom closet. “I don’t even recognize it,” he said. “What a difference,” agreed his dad.

Tommy was one of the parishioners who cut the ribbon alongside Father Barkett and Bishop Burbidge officially opening the home.

“This is a great joy and privilege to be here for the blessing of the house,” said Bishop Burbidge. “We have God’s promise, especially to those who will dwell in this house, that the Lord who loves them and has chosen them will be with them always in this home and wherever they are.”

Kevin Drumheller, chief operating officer of Chimes, said he’s grateful for the partnership with Marian Homes. “(We) need to ensure that people with differing abilities are part of the community, that they contribute to the community, that they are not on the periphery but actually an active part,” he said. “Our folks should be living the same life that you and I live — sometimes they just need additional support to make that happen.”

This story has been updated. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019