Spotlighting Mainstay Supportive Housing Families: Paul Zerola



Since living at Mainstay’s supportive living program, Paul Zerola’s parents have seen their son grow more independent and confident. Paul, who is now 33 and has Down Syndrome, first moved into his new home at a Mainstay Supportive house in Norwood 11 years ago. 

“We love the independent living that Mainstay Supportive Housing gives Paul,” said his mother Nicole. “He is high-functioning, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable with him being completely on his own. This gives him, and us,  just enough support to give him independence, but also feel that he’s safe and cared for.”

A Home Away from Home 

Paul works Monday through Friday in a cafeteria at Boston College. He looks forward to seeing his eight housemates at the end of the day when they come together for a communal dinner, prepared by the staff.

“That’s another thing we really like about it, they get that home-cooked meal,” said Nicole. “Food is a big part of our family.” Residents also go grocery shopping and prepare their own breakfasts and lunches. They each have spots in the Mainstay Supportive Housing kitchen pantry to keep food and snacks. 

The trained and dedicated staff is onsite overnight, and during the evening on weekdays and weekends to offer home-based services and additional support for their adult residents with Down Syndrome or other intellectual disabilities.

“They care for the individuals and look out for their best interests,” Nicole said.

The Mainstay Supportive Housing Staff also runs daily activities like games, arts and crafts and outings to the mall or the movies.

“There’s so much socialization and a real sense of family,” Nicole said. 

Promoting Responsibility & Independence at Mainstay

Residents at this supported living community learn responsibility, too, she emphasized.

“Paul does his own laundry, makes his own breakfasts and lunches. Because he lived at home before, we were always a crutch. Now he has a new level of independence. You can see how his confidence has grown over the years.”

Nicole says the Mainstay Supportive Housing model for independent living for adults with developmental disabilities has been the perfect solution for her family.

“This is a special in-between environment,” she said, for adults with Down Syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities who are ready to move out of their parents’ house but can’t live on their own.

To learn more about Mainstay Supportive Housing options in Newton, Norwood, and Walpole, visit

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