An unexpected $39,000 water hookup fee has delayed the opening of Brendan House, a Sound Avenue group home for survivors of traumatic brain injuries.
The project’s sponsoring organization is now asking for online donations to help make up for the sudden drain in funds.
It’s been four years since Brendan House was proposed, and roughly two years since construction began. Weather, fundraising hurdles and other obstacles have pushed the project back several times.
But Allyson Scerri, founder of the nonprofit New Beginnings which is spearheading construction of the group home, isn’t fazed.
“I honestly can tell you, I’m not even nervous about it,” she said. “It’s all the way you look at it. You can look at it like its taking forever or you can look at it like it’s a miracle that it’s almost done.”
The facility was created from the skeleton of an old farmhouse and now totals more than 4,000 square feet. When complete, Brendan House will house 12 people who will receive round-the-clock care from a dedicated support staff.
Among them will be Michael Hubbard, a Riverhead teen who was seriously burned in a gel-candle explosion in 2012.
In April, Ms. Scerri said Brendan House was about $10,000 away from completion. But her organization had thought they’d be able to use existing wells to provide water to the home. About two months ago, however, she learned they’ll be required to connect to a Suffolk County water line, an extra $39,000 expense.
“When we found out, we said, ‘Oh, my God,’ ” Ms. Scerri said.
Before this setback, she said, the work had been progressing steadily. The hardwoods floors inside are now finished and the doors have all been hung on their hinges. Molding and tiling in the bathrooms is also being completed, she said.
A fire alarm system worth $23,000 was recently donated, Ms. Scerri added. But the group home will need additional donations to cover the cost of the water hookup.
New Beginnings turned to GoFundMe.com to raise the money. But after shooting up to $2,500 raised, donations “dwindled off,” she said.
“It’s quieted down a bit,” Ms. Scerri added. The nonprofit is currently planning a benefit concert on the property and its seventh annual benefit gala at East Wind in November. Its leaders are also contacting elected officials and business partners to find a way around the hookup requirement.
Ms. Scerri said she’s not setting a timetable for the completion of Brendan House.
“I feel like it’s had a mind of its own since day one. It’s a half-million-dollar project done with the love of the community,” she said. “I just want it done the right way.”
Photo credit: Paul Squire