“Don’t eat your money.”
That advice — not to eat the 10 peppermints provided as currency in an auction at St. William I and II Apartments in Dardenne Prairie — came from Hope Holder, recertification specialist of the Cardinal Ritter Senior Services facilities. Residents who gathered in a community room bid on items sealed in paper bags.
Carol Farrar and Carol Grant, sitting side by side, grasped the spirit of the activity as they jostled for position with their bid cards, raising the ante and level of laughter in the room. Grant won the bid at nine peppermints for what turned out to be a bag of chocolate honey grahams. “She almost killed me with that” bid card, Farrar joked before Grant graciously offered to give her fellow resident her extra peppermint.
The activity brought smiles and laughter as everyone ended up with at least two items, often chocolates or small household items, proving false Holder’s insistence that someone would end up with a bag of coal and auctioneer Donna Cusumano’s enticement that one bag included $100.
St. William Apartments serves people who are age 62 or older and meet federal income requirements. Each apartment rents for 30 percent of the resident’s adjusted gross income. Besides the St. Charles location, Cardinal Ritter offers affordable housing senior apartment complexes in Shrewsbury, Bridgeton, Florissant, St. Louis City, Warrenton and Jennings.
Cardinal Ritter is an agency of Catholic Charities, which is a recipient of funding from the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Farrar, who attends Immaculate Conception Parish next door, has lived at St. William Apartments for 11 years. She appreciates that it’s a safe environment with friendly people. “Good memories here. The place is always spotless,” she said.
Jean Waters, another auction attendee who goes to Immaculate Conception, has resided at St. William for four years. Waters enjoys the free time and opportunities to socialize and the organized outings. Her unit is quiet, next to the library, and has a view of trees. She moved from Florissant, and two of her three children live nearby.
Mary Rose Rothenheber has a toy Pomeranian, Mia, that she takes on walks. “She thinks she owns the place,” Rothenheber said of Mia.
The residence “is a wonderful place to spend your elderly years,” said Rothenheber, who has lived there since it was built 11 years ago and enjoyed working prior to that for 15 years at a former Cardinal Ritter Senior Services location, St. Patrick Apartments in Florissant, in maintenance/custodial work. She attends Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant and enjoys Masses that are celebrated at St. William.
One example of the resident-focused approach at St. William is management’s appreciation of a suggestion Rothenheber made to put a mirror up along a driveway that had a blind spot.
Cusumano, manager of one of the St. William buildings, said Cardinal Ritter Senior Services “helps so many people in so many ways. They’re able to live here in independent living. They become a family, but they’re respective of each other’s privacy even though they’re so close.”
But when they get together, Cusumano said, “They have a good time. It’s nice to see them all together laughing.”
A caring place
Hope Holder, part of the housing management for Cardinal Ritter’s HUD-subsidized senior apartments, relates easily to residents. “I enjoy helping the people, getting to know them, caring for them; they become an extension of family sometimes,” Holder explained.
Valentina Adams is the social services coordinator for St. William Apartments and St. Clare of Assisi Senior Village in Warrenton and assists all Cardinal Ritter’s service coordinators. She helps the residents have a better quality of life, for example, by knowing what they’re eligible for and applying for services, plus helping them with their finances and medical coverage.
Even if residents don’t need the services, they are comforted in knowing they have a resource to go to if they need it, Adams said. “I love what I do because I’m able to make a difference,” she said.
The residences offer transportation to necessary services. There’s also group trips to various sights, other social and recreational activities, on-site staff, a chapel and more.
Holder is thankful for donors to the Annual Catholic Appeal and donors to Cardinal Ritter Senior Services for their support. “It goes directly to serving the people,” Holder said.
About the agency
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services is a federated agency of Catholic Charities of St. Louis that provides compassionate care to senior adults through a continuum of residential, healthcare, and supportive social services.
Inspired by Jesus Christ, the agency has a long tradition focused on providing independence, options and the highest quality of service to senior adults.
About 7,000 people benefit from programs of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services each year, with 72 percent of the 2,500 people directly in the care of the Catholic Charities agency living below the poverty level.
As a Catholic Charities agency, Cardinal Ritter benefits from donations to the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Besides 10 affordable housing senior complexes, Cardinal Ritter Senior Services offers independent living apartments, a skilled nursing facility, two assisted-living communities and social services and supportive programs, including counseling, emergency support, rehabilitative therapy and senior employment.
For more information, call (314) 961-8000 or visit cardinalritterseniorservices.org.