Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Dear Neighbor from whom they do not separate themselves

“Increasing our capacity for mission is our focus,” says Sr. MaryAnn Rogers, of the Province Leadership Team of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Albany Province.  She then began to describe the dynamic plan the province has for using two of its greatest resources, the land at the motherhouse and the enthusiasm of the sisters for the mission.

The campus for the Albany Province is massive.  Yet there is hardly an unused space.  The campus is home to approximately 170 sisters, 150 of whom are actively retired (some involved with more activities than when they were in full time remunerated ministry), with 70 in skilled nursing care.  The building houses an adult day care center called Bright Horizons where sisters and members of the neighborhood community spend time together enjoying their senior years, a hospitality center welcoming large groups for conferences and workshops, a music school providing music lessons and programs for all age groups, an art studio, a woodworking shop providing craft opportunities for the residents, and a commitment to wetlands preservation on their property.  Among all these programs and land uses, I want to focus on two, “the Ground B Ladies” and Shaker Pointe at Carondelet.

Well over 40 years ago when the State of New York was closing its State Schools for the cognitively challenged, the sisters invited a group of these [then] young women to become live-in employees at their motherhouse.  Now many years later, most have aged with the sisters, but still have jobs at the Motherhouse, although some have retired there.  They earn a salary, pay room and board, and enjoy life together among the sisters.  They each have their own bedroom, a shared community room with a kitchenette, and share meals with the sisters in the dining room. The mutual care and concern among the Ground B Ladies for each other and the sisters is obvious and heartwarming.  Two Sisters of St. Joseph are available to assist and guide these women. The group enjoys outings, especially their occasional major vacations together. 

Sr. MaryAnn at the new housing development 
 The sisters also recognized that their property could be used to provide services for their neighbors.  Working closely with the diocese and the neighborhood township, several years ago, they essentially donated a portion of their property to the diocese to be used for a joint HUD/Catholic Charities low-income elderly housing project.  Once that was complete, they began to explore how they could use other parts of the property.  A needs assessment noted that middle income elderly housing was the biggest need in the area.  So again the sisters began to develop a village that would both meet the needs of the neighborhood and generate some income for them.   A combination of stand-alone “cottages” and apartments are being developed in phases.  Additionally, a business area with a restaurant, stores, doctors offices and physical therapy center, an indoor pool and recreation area is being developed.  The sisters planned for these facilities to also serve the low-income residents.  This portion of the development will be built right between the two housing areas so that it is convenient for both populations.  This land is a wetland area and the property is being developed to preserve and even highlight the natural beauty that this feature brings to this area.
Living room area in model cottage

No comments:

Post a Comment