Katie Davis is having the time of her life.
Since moving to Beth-Anne Place more than two years ago, Katie spends her days talking with friends and participating in a variety of social activities.
“I asked the Lord a long time ago that he’d make my last days the best,” says Katie, who is 95-years-young. “I know these are the best. I’m enjoying my life.”
Beth-Anne Place — an affordable 85-unit supportive living community for seniors — is a ministry of Bethel New Life Inc., a faith-based community development corporation that began in 1979 out of nearby Bethel Lutheran Church on Chicago’s West Side. Bethel is a congregation of the ELCA.
Bethel New Life has grown since then and today has nearly 300 employees, 400 volunteers and a multimillion-dollar budget. In addition, Bethel has developed more than 1,000 units of affordable housing, placed more than 7,000 people in living-wage jobs and has offered a wide range of programs in housing development, employment and family support — among other things.
Bethel New Life relies on the financial support of key partners, including the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod and dozens of ELCA congregations across the country, says Sara Spoonheim, senior director of resource development for Bethel New Life.
Beth-Anne Place is that in-between place for seniors who need socialization or assistance with such everyday activities as preparing meals or dispensing medication but who don’t yet need 24-hour nursing home care, according to Erika Jackson, director of marketing and admissions for Bethel’s Community of Elders programs.
“Or they just need that extra reassurance that there is someone in the building 24/7 who truly is concerned about their well-being,” she says.
‘Part of a family’
The seniors who live at Beth-Anne Place are more than just residents, Erika says. “They are part of a family. We care about their well-being. We want to help our elders be as independent as they can be for as long as they can be.”
And Beth-Anne Place has been doing that since January 2003, providing residents with three nourishing meals a day, weekly housekeeping, laundry services, nursing assistance and a wide range of other supportive services.
Beth-Anne Place also offers a variety of social pastimes, including the activity director reading the local newspaper to residents who have gathered, eager to keep up with current events and discuss different issues. “They vocalize their opinions among their peers and agree to disagree,” says Erika. “They have some really lively conversations. It’s wonderful to witness our residents become so engaged.”
Beth-Anne Place provides a beacon of hope for the West Side of Chicago, Erika says. “You hear so many negative stories about (these neighborhoods), but when you look at our campus, with the mosaic tiles, sunlight, and the positive energy and spirit that is there, it just radiates.”
“I’ve lived in a lot of different places, but Beth-Anne is the best,” Katie says. “It’s a place where people care about you. The people here are the best people I know. They treat me wonderfully. I love it here.”