Emilia and Rodolfo
Resources for the Third Age helps elders age in place with services and a supportive community.
Emilia and Rodolfo are avid participants in St. Mary’s Center’s activities. Twenty years ago they emigrated from the Philippines. Rodolfo, a retired US veteran, learned about St. Mary’s from a friend, and going to St. Mary’s readily became his favorite daily activity.
Rodolfo currently suffers from dementia and other chronic diseases. Emilia, in order to care for Rodolfo, retired from her job at St. Vincent de Paul’s thrift store. Each morning Rodolfo declares, “Let’s go to St. Mary’s!” Emilia says, “We now come to St. Mary’s four times a week.”
At St. Mary’s Emilia and Rodolfo visit with friends and share stories. They participate in our hot lunch and Mercy Brown Bag programs, which help them stretch their limited budget and meet other basic needs. Rodolfo sees the nursing students for help in managing his medications. Both Emilia and Rodolfo participate in the exercise program and are fond of dancing.
Emilia appreciates the kindness with which the staff of Resources for the Third Age assists them with problems big and small. She’s especially thankful for being understood by Rebecca Hufana, a staff person from the Philippines. Emilia says “we stay strong, healthy and happy” when we go to St. Mary’s and feel “blessed” by the community.
Leonard’s Path from Homelessness to Housing
Leonard arrived at St. Mary’s Center’s winter shelter as a homeless man. His mother’s house, where he lived for several years, had recently been sold. Leonard was a loner with a history of drinking and collecting things. He used a walker and could not survive staying on the streets.
When the temporary shelter ended, St. Mary’s Homeless Senior Services staff found a safe, supportive place for him to live, at a board and care home. Leonard often felt agitated and acted gruffly. When he physically threatened another resident, the staff sent him to a hospital for care. It was discovered he had high blood pressure and a heart condition. Once on proper medication, Leonard felt calmer and could relate to others more easily and pleasantly. St. Mary’s staff then referred him to a healthcare agency, the Center for Elders’ Independence, to oversee his medical care. We enrolled him in our Representative Payee program to manage his finances.
When Leonard had fully adjusted, and no longer needed intensive case management, his social worker transferred him to our Resources for the Third Age program, where he works with a senior advocate.
Today, Leonard enjoys improved health and the comfort of home. He feels freer and more content. He took the initiative to explore his neighborhood, making friends with the owner of an antique store who asks him to watch over wares displayed on the sidewalk.
His stability stems from St. Mary’s ongoing advocacy and coordination of his care with service providers in the community. Sister Liz Fisher, his retired advocate, reflects with fondness, “It was a pleasure and fun to be with Leonard. When I took him shopping he’d burst into song!”
Seeking Shelter, Discovering a Community
After surviving being homeless for much of 15 years, Lola knew she did not want to endure another winter of cold and rain. She made herself walk though the gates of St. Mary’s Center in 2013 to ask for a winter shelter bed. She wanted something better for her life.
At first, Lola presented an armor-like shell that helped her survive a childhood among alcoholics. There were dysfunctional relationships and years of living on the streets. She found it difficult to be honest about herself and often thought about leaving the shelter. But eventually, the genuine compassion and care she found at St. Mary’s softened her. She realized St. Mary’s offered something good for her. Lola has met regularly with her social worker to address self-care and to develop and implement plans to achieve her goals. She attends Recovery 55 meetings daily to learn and reinforce skills for living clean and sober.
St. Mary’s Center’s staff encourages participants to engage with others to build a community of support. Lola has made friends with whom she can confide. She has learned to speak her truth in the Women’s Empowerment and Recovery 55 Groups. She moved to our Closer to Home permanent supportive housing program and shares a common area and kitchen with other seniors.
Lola says she appreciates having “to learn to live with other people.” She gives thanks daily for walking through the gates of St. Mary’s and staying. Since coming to St. Mary’s, she has been clean and sober, and she will soon move into her own apartment through a subsidized housing program. “I’ve done a lot of growing and am bringing myself back to life,” Lola says. “I need the support of St. Mary’s to keep on track.” St. Mary’s Center provided a safe environment where her learning, healing, recovery and empowerment began.