Campaign hopes to ‘fulfill our promise’ to seniors

When the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section built The Delcrest more than 40 years ago, the organization did not promise the residents or the community a rose garden.

What it did promise was affordable, safe housing and more than just an apartment building. Four decades later, the 275 residents of the former Delcrest, now the Gladys and Henry Crown Center for Senior Living, have not only a rose garden but also social services, kosher meals, transportation, programs and activities. They have real quality of life.

Those of you who have been reading this column for almost 44 years know that I am in love with statistics. So hold on to your hat. Here we go with a lot of them.

Crown Center’s residents range in age from 62 to 100 and span a variety of religions, ethnicities, professions, educational backgrounds and abilities. The majority of them live at or below the poverty level, and annual incomes for 40 percent are less than $14,000. Seventy-two percent receive rental subsidies from HUD. More than 30 percent of the men and women living at Crown Center are age 85 and older.

No rental income may be applied to funding any Crown Center programs which must be funded independently — by private donations, individual contributions, grants and fundraising efforts.

Get the picture?

On Sunday, June 10 at 2 p.m., the community is invited by the board, staff and residents of Crown Center for a special event and program to preview “Fulfilling Our Promise: The Campaign for Crown Center.”

It will be held at Crown Center, 8350 Delcrest Drive, and if you have never seen this remarkable facility you have a treat in store. Serving as honorary chair of the campaign is Lucy Lopata while Randy and Nancy Green are chairing both the event and the campaign. President of Crown Center is Joseph Marchbein. A dessert buffet will follow the program, so you will have the opportunity to see the recently refurbished dining room as well as the many amenities of the center. To RSVP call Fran Hoyt at 314-991-2055.

Crown Center’s Board of Trustees, in an effort to maintain the level of services and to provide affordable, quality senior living in a caring, secure environment, is embarking on a comprehensive campaign to raise $3 million.

Its vital services — such as transportation, nutrition and educational activities — are offered free or at a nominal fee with the intention of improving the lives of low-income older adults by helping them to keep healthy and active.

Crown Center is also a community center, offering most programs and services to non-residents. And last, but surely not least, the aging physical facilities of the complex also pose challenges as the need to maintain safe, secure and functional housing and common space becomes more expensive.

In designing the campaign, the board has focused on various critical areas of need and has named funds which individuals may establish or to which they can contribute. For example the Social Service Fund will help ensure the continuation of social work services at the center by underwriting a portion of the salaries and related costs for the high-level, professional social workers on staff.

The Transportation Fund will assure the seniors that the Crown Center bus and full-time driver will continue to drive them to the grocery, bank, pharmacy, group outings and cultural institutions. Then there is the Crisis and Transition Fund. It provides for assistance to residents with few financial and family supports to cope with recovery from acute illness, or ongoing adjustments to chronic conditions.

Nikki Goldstein, executive director of Crown Center, provided me with voluminous amounts of information about the campaign and its goals so that I could condense it and pass it on to you. I counted 31 different funds that would both enhance the quality of life for the buildings and area residents and would insure a fiscally secure future for Crown Center.

I found very intriguing the “Chicken Soup” for Seniors Fund, which allows for discussion and support groups that bring together small groups of seniors for reminiscence, humor, and emotionally uplifting experiences in order to promote well being and prevent depression.

In establishing The Delcrest, now Crown Center, the founding mothers (yes, I was one of them) did so in the Jewish tradition of honoring our mothers and fathers. It was our promise to provide our less affluent elders with affordable housing and supportive services. Now Crown Center is inviting all of you to join them in fulfilling their promise.