“H.O.M.E. is a very unique place that offers more than just the services they provide. It’s a community that truly cares for one another, and I’m glad to have called it home for so long!”
The affordable housing offered by H.O.M.E. has been intergenerational by design from the very start. In 1982, Pat Crowley House opened its doors and became the home of twelve seniors, four college-age resident assistants and the young family of our shared living coordinator. Apartments for families with young children were included when we opened Nathalie Salmon House in 1994 and Blackhawk Manor in 2004.
Every day, we observe the benefits of intergenerational connections highlighted by organizations such as Generations United and the Legacy Project. Young people benefit from elders who model positive social skills, share hobbies and life lessons, and provide one-to-one attention that builds self-esteem. For seniors, relationships with young people provide opportunities for socialization, lifelong learning and a broader support network.
These themes were echoed by our newest family at Nathalie Salmon House – Kara, Brandon and their young son Ethan (who, at three months, is our youngest resident).
Kara originally came to H.O.M.E. as a resident assistant at Pat Crowley House. Among our residents, she found the “old wisdom” and stories that she had missed since the passing of her grandmother, whom Kara credits with shaping who she is today.
Brandon joined H.O.M.E. as a resident assistant at Nathalie Salmon House after moving to Chicago from Minneapolis. He was attracted to the opportunity because he had relished the experience of helping an elderly man during the prior summer. Brandon eventually became the cook for the shared living residents at NSH.
A shared love of (and talent for) music brought Brandon and Kara together. Brandon and other resident assistants began playing guitars and drums for a few residents as music therapy. Eventually they coalesced as a band, the H.O.M.E. Boys, and played for parties and celebrations at NSH. One of the band members had met a “talented girl” named Kara at Pat Crowley House and she soon joined the group. Kara noted that “I have learned about a lot of new music from Brandon, and I hope he has learned about some older stuff from me.”
Brandon shared a story of the power of music (and intergenerational connections):
“There was a resident who I connected with almost instantly when I arrived at H.O.M.E. She was dealing with bouts of dementia and was often confused about people or even the time of day. But if I played a song by Willie Nelson or Hank Williams she would be rushed back to her youth and sing along word to word. It was amazing. I don’t know of many other creative mediums that I’ve witnessed such a power.”
Baby made three when Ethan arrived in August of this year. Brandon said he liked the idea of bringing his son up in a community like Nathalie Salmon House: “I knew Kara and I might have struggles with a new baby at times, and a lot of residents here really act as a support system for us.” Kara added that Ethan “is everybody’s baby. He has 30 grandmas and grandpas cooing over him.”
She believes the experience of growing up at NSH will impact his attitude toward seniors: “I know he will respect his elders.”
I asked Kara and Brandon why people should support H.O.M.E. on Giving Tuesday. Kara responded:
“H.O.M.E is an organization that provides opportunity for many people, old and young. It supports the growth of a sustaining and productive community, from the ground up, which is very unique. For the elders, H.O.M.E. has saved many lives from being desolate and without purpose. That is a gift worth life itself and definitely worth supporting.”
We are able to provide resources for low-income seniors in Chicago because of donations that we receive.
H.O.M.E. is proudly partnering with #GivingTuesday and #ILGiveBig to encourage the spirit of charitable philanthropy this holiday season, because together, we change lives.
To find out more about H.O.M.E. and to provide support to low-income seniors, please visit our website. This post is part of our series to celebrate the impact of #GivingTuesday, which will take place this year tomorrow, December 2, 2014. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season.