S.I. Foster Home Opens In Memory of Fallen Hero

NY 1 - November 18, 2009

by Amanda Farinacci

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Tuesday in Tompkinsville to celebrate the opening of a new home for foster children that bears the name and mission of a fallen FDNY hero. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report. The doors outside Stephen's House are painted red -- the same color as a firehouse. On Tuesday, organizers said they hope the foster children who enter the newly constructed residential home feel safe and protected, just as they would visiting a firehouse.

Stephen's House is named for fallen New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, who ran through the Battery Tunnel from Brooklyn to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 with 80 pounds of gear on his back. It's a partnership between the Siller Foundation, started by Stephen's six siblings, and the New York Foundling.

"I think it's just a great representation of how he acted, and how he was such a great person, and it really shows what he would have wanted for his name," said Siller's daughter, Olivia.

Since the September 11th attacks, the Siller family has raised money for various programs designed to help children who have lost one or both parents.

Stephen was orphaned when he was 10 years old and the siblings who helped raise him say building a residential center for needy children is the perfect way to continue their brother's legacy.

"His story is the story of a kid that lost a lot, and yet became positive and resilient, and that's a good story to tell these kids, because i'm sure they have some tragic stories of things that happened in their lives, and they can look at stephen as an example of how you still can have a productive life, even if you can have a few bad things happen," said George Siller.

Stephen's House will be home to 24 teenagers who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, and are waiting to be permanently placed in a home.

The five-story building has recreational space, exercise rooms, lounge areas, and 24 single bedrooms, giving the kids valuable personal space in which to live.

"These kids are confronted with such issues that placing them with other kids where they don't get their own space, their own dignity, their own respective, it just made sense to them individual bedrooms," said New York Foundling Executive Director Bill Baccaglini.

Plans are already in the works to build an outdoor basketball court in the spring.

Fundraising for the project is ongoing.

For information on how to make a donation to Stephen's House, contact stephanie.sherg@nyfoundling.org