By Ellie Baum, Administrator of Heritage Woods of Chicago
This is the second of two Blogs that we are posting about the senior living communities that recently were honored by BMA Management, Ltd., with 2012 Enriching Lives Awards. Heritage Woods of Chicago received First Place awards and Churchview Supportive Living. Also recognized were John Evans Supportive Living in Pekin, Illinois, and the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living communities in Charleston and Pekin, Illinois. Today’s Blog is about Heritage Woods of Chicago, an affordable assisted living community located on Chicago’s west side.
All too often residents of Heritage Woods of Chicago enter our community from less than ideal conditions. The west side of Chicago is recognized as a high crime area with shootings, gangs, drugs, poverty, and neglect.
Many of these seniors are estranged from family and do not have adequate support systems.
A homeless gentleman moved to our community from a nursing home. When he arrived he was wearing a pair of mismatched socks and had no shoes. We immediately purchased shoes, and provided clothing and apartment furnishings. Shortly after, we discovered that he had a drinking problem and learned he was not alone in his addiction. We secured a volunteer to facilitate an AA group and purchased “Big Books.” We supported him along with our residents in their sobriety. The resident began singing and showed us his true self and sense of humor. He won 2nd place in our Dancing with the Stars competition, joined a regular card group and made friends. He is just one of our success stories.
During Supportive Living Week the residents provided statements about how Supportive Living has made a difference in their lives. One resident stated that Heritage Woods of Chicago restored her self-esteem, while another shared that she regained her independence. The most profound letter stated that Heritage Woods of Chicago is a “place of healing.”
While there are countless stories of our staff’s dedication and commitment, our support extends beyond the walls of Heritage Woods of Chicago.
One gentleman was initially unable to move into our community from a homeless shelter as a result of an unjust criminal charge. The senior previously lived in Michigan and was charged as a sex offender, as a result of his incontinence, making him ineligible for residency. Heritage Woods of Chicago took the initiative to contact an attorney in Michigan who agreed to accept the case pro bono. After several months the attorney was successful in removing the sex offender charge and the resident then became a member of our community.
We are proud to be an active member of the West Side Coalition for Seniors. The Coalition surveyed the seniors to identify the most needed, yet inaccessible, health services for impoverished seniors. Heritage Woods of Chicago chaired the outreach committee for the past two years and pioneered an annual health fair. As a result of the screenings one senior was able to save his vision due to early detection of a serious eye condition. In addition, our employees volunteer their time each year to assist with the Coalition’s annual senior prom. The seniors enjoy dressing in their best attire for a formal banquet at McCormick Hyatt Regency complete with dancing, a full course menu, and the crowning of the royal court. We were excited when one of our residents was honored as Prince of the Prom in 2012.
Heritage Woods of Chicago is more than a community. We are a family that supports our residents with love, compassion, and dignity. It truly starts with love. A professional asked, “How do you do it? How do you help these seniors who bring a host of problems with them?” At Heritage Woods of Chicago “(we) give them love… and see what happens.”
Heritage Woods of Chicago is one of the 36 seniors living communities managed by BMA.
The community serves low-income seniors, including those on Medicaid,
who need some help to maintain their independence,
providing a wonderful alternative to a nursing home or to struggling alone at home.
“BMA Management is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”