A house in Chicopee owned by the Congregation is now an even more welcoming place for Sisters requiring temporary or transitional housing, thanks to a generous grant from Support Our Aging Religious (SOAR).
Sisters Joan Dumais and Natalie Cain are the new permanent residents, caretakers and “welcome wagon” for the property. It will provide temporary housing for Sisters who are in transition, as well as an occasional resting place for visiting Sisters from out of town who wish to spend the night. This will help fill a gap created with the sale of Mont Marie, where spare rooms were frequently used for such short-term guests.
“We have a front room on the first floor for someone who is not well, and two other empty beds for people that need them,” Sister Joan Dumais explained as she led a tour through the house. “Not having the Mont anymore, if someone is not feeling well, or just getting out of the hospital, and they ordinarily live alone, we now have a wheelchair-accessible place for them while they are in transition from one level of care to another.”
Joan Gallagher Farrell, a board member of SOAR, recently visited the property to see the many improvements for herself. She presented a check to Sister Maxyne Schneider, President of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, and Sister Mary Ferguson, the Director of Development.
A SOAR grant is intended to help Congregations better care for their aging and infirm members, ensuring their personal security and safety while allowing them to remain with their Community. By specifically allocating these funds to such improvements, a SOAR grant helps its recipients devote more of their own limited resources to their various ministries.
For this project the funds were used to renovate a bedroom on the first floor of the three-story home, and to add a shower to the downstairs bathroom. Most importantly, doorways were widened and a small wheelchair lift was added to make the entire first floor compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A Sister requiring assistance may now use the house regardless of any mobility issues.
“What SOAR is doing is allowing us, with the additions we’ve made, to turn what we already had into something that solves one of those remaining problems for our elders,” Sister Maxyne said. “This will be used—we don’t know by how many, or what frequency, but if one of those things happen now, we are more fully prepared to assist.”
“That’s the very population SOAR strives to address,” Farrell replied. “At SOAR we take our mission very seriously. When a request for grants comes in, we make very sure that the projects will help maintain the dignity, independence and quality of life for as many elderly as we can.” Farrell cited this project as well as previous SOAR grants awarded to the SSJs--such as new mattresses for the “D” Building, automatic door openers and improvements to the elevator at the Mont—as “perfect examples of what SOAR does, and why they do it.”
“These grants are reminders of people expressing their gratitude,” Farrell added. “Our donors frequently speak of the education and assistance they’ve gotten from the Sisters. This is one way they have to say ‘thank you’.”
Every tour requires a group photo! From left to right: Sisters Maxyne Schneider, Lillian Reilly, Mary Ferguson, and Mary Bisson; Joan Gallagher Farrell of SOAR, and Sisters Ginny Maitland, Betsy Sullivan and Joan Dumais.
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