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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 11, 1987     The Message
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September 11, 1987

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September 11, 1987 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Independent living called 'Heavensville' Apartments at Little Sisters of the Poor allow residents to come and go as they please Jenny Deer was so anxious to get into her new apartment that she used to visit the site every day to watch the construction progress. She is home now, in one of the newly remodeled independent living apartments in what used to be the convent for the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1236 Lincoln Ave., Evansville. "Oh, I love it here," she says, "there is no other place like it. This is my home." Jenny Deer, who used to live a few blocks away in a single family home, is one of the 11 oc- cupants of the apartments, in one wing of the building complex. Eleven more apartments are under construction. In the main portion of the building, St. John's Home for the Aged provides intermediate nursing care for 92 residents. Renovation of the convent will cost approximately $850,000, with completion of the work ex- pected by early October. Another section of the building is now being used to house the 17 members of the Little Sisters of the Poor who live and work at the Home. Residents of the independent living apartments are free to come and go as they please, but there are organized activities for them if they choose to participate. There are also opportunities for them to volunteer, to be active with the residents "on the other side" -- the people who are not able to live independently. "Momma" Marcella McCanless, originally from Nashville, Tenn. {"Can't you tell by the way I talk?") is another resident of an independent living apartment. She says she "loves to do for others." And she does. "This is my family here," says "Momma." A flesh-and-blood daughter of hers is a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, living in Chicago. The independent residents volunteer in the kitchen and dining room, in the laundry, with arts and crafts, and "any way they can," according to Sister Amedee Maxwell, Superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor. "We feel the interest is good. We all gain from one another. Everyone can learn from one another." She terms the volunteer efforts of the independent residents as a "real / reaching out to others." For their part, the independent residents consider their volunteer efforts to be part of the ac- tivities that help make their apartments homes. Organized activities for the independent residents have included a trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, Ill., and a visit to "My Old Kentucky Home" to see the Stephen Foster story at Bardstown, Ky. Shopping trips are coordinated for residents who do not drive their own cars. All but one of the independent living apartments is occupied by single residents; one apartment now is home for a couple. Applicants for the 11 apartments under construction must be able to live independently and must meet certain limited income requirements. Applications are now be- ing taken. Each apartment has a bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom and storage area. Some apart- ments now under construction are designed with features to accomodate handicapped residents. All apartments have an emergency call system, that would alert the Nurse's station of sudden problems. Independent residents come and go as they please, and may have vistors as they please. A telephone system allows the residents to talk with visitors at the main entrance of the building. The new apartment wihg has a laundry room, a room for extra storage space in individual lock- ed compartments, and a large community lounge for meetings, visiting, or parties. "I don't call this place Evansville," says "Momma" McCanless, effusively. "I call it 'Heavensville.'" Apartment occupant Jenny Deer welcomes guests in the lilng room of her independent living apart- ment, top left. The kitchen, left center, is typical of kitchens in the new one-bedroom apartments in what once was the convent area for the Little Sisters of the Poor. Msgr. Frederick Niehaus, at left, enjoys the combination of independence and attention he receives in his retirement home. The new apartments are located at 1236 Lincoln Ave., Evansville. Above, the main entrance on Harlan Ave. provides a pleasant view from many of the new apartments. The main entrance also provides securi- ty for residents and visitors who pass a reception desk as they enter. .. Photos and text by Paul Leingang ,