Frat House, or Aspire of WNY Group Home? Introducing High Park!

Frat house, or Aspire of WNY group home? Seven years ago, the Buffalo News published a segment featuring a group of guys who receive services from Aspire of WNY living together in a shared house. Fast-forward to today and the same group of guys still enjoy life in what the Buffalo News playfully referred to as a “bachelor pad” for the six guys living there.
By the way, in case you were wondering where the “frat house” name came from? It was from the residents themselves! Lisa Neary, who provides oversight at the home, explains that the house occupied by the guys operates just like any other home shared by a group of young men. They share meals, play games, hang out in their living room, and sometimes even bicker about chores. Their favorite thing is watching the Buffalo Bills games together every Sunday. “On Sundays, I’ll walk into the house and see Buffalo Bills memorabilia everywhere. They’ll wake up early to decorate the living room with Bills flags, lay snacks out on the table, and order pizza and wings for every game,” explains Lisa.

As much as the group loves spending time together, they all have separate schedules and often run in and out of the house at different times. Almost everyone in the house has a job, working at establishments such as Pasquale’s, Elderwood, and the Explore & More Children’s Museum. “They each have their own money, and they all work to be able to pay for things. We even helped three of the guys sign up for debit cards,” says Lisa. Outside of their jobs, they all participate in different external activities and are visiting often with family, friends, and neighbors. However, in a testament to their tight-knit friendship, if one housemate isn’t home, you can count on an extra plate of dinner waiting for their return.

Through the opportunity to share a space, the guys have been able to take on new levels of independence. “They tell me what they want to do with their lives, everything is very much up to them,” explains Lisa. “One of the guys wanted to go out to lunch one day, but there was too much snow to drive. So, instead, he decided to walk to a local bar up the street, Brunner’s Tavern. Now, he’s a regular there and stops in for lunch and a soda on a regular basis,” explains Lisa.

“My favorite part of living here is being with my buddies,” says Mike, a resident at the group home. “We like playing football, hockey, baseball, and cornhole. We watch a lot of movies, go bowling every week, and order pizza, wings, and pop every Sunday,” explains Billy, another resident at the home.

“The guys at High Park are such a great example of what it means for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live as independently as possible,” says Renee Filip, President & CEO at Aspire of WNY. “Seeing how far they have come, as a result of the services we are able to provide here at Aspire of WNY and the dedicated staff who support them, is what makes all of what we do here at our agency feel so rewarding,” says Renee.
Cheers to the High Park frat house crew…we know where we’re headed for Buffalo Bills season!