By Amy Taylor, Special to The Record
NAZARETH, Ky. — In some cities, elderly people are forced by economic necessity to live in neighborhoods where crime is common. In some places, those who can no longer afford cars — or can no longer drive them — have a tough time making it to the grocery store.
But thanks to the vision and work of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN), elderly and disabled residents of Nazareth Village enjoy a safe, clean, well-maintained apartment complex on the landscaped SCN campus near Bardstown, Ky. In addition, the residents — which include sisters and lay people — enjoy support services that help them stay independent.
The sisters and the residents held a party Aug. 15 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Nazareth Village I and II — the two facilities that make up the complex. The “146 villagers,” as they call themselves, came together to sample free food, listen to live music and enjoy the company of neighbors who they say are now close friends.
To Vicki Ward, who serves as president and managing director of both Village I and II, “the residents seem like one big family,” she said. “They look out for each other.”
Christy Caldwell, a villager who heads up the resident organization, agrees.
“If you get lonely, all you have to do is knock on somebody’s door,” she said. “I love that about this place.”
When Caldwell’s daughter died a few years ago, “probably 50 people dropped by to see me,” she said. “Living here at that time was invaluable to me.”
For many years the buildings that now house Village I and II were used for Nazareth College, a school for young women that was operated by the Sisters of Charity.
When that school merged with what was then Spalding College, now Spalding University, in Louisville, the buildings on the Nazareth campus were no longer needed for education.
The sisters obtained a 40-year loan from HUD to convert the dorm building into apartments, Sister Adeline Fehribach said, and Village 1 — for those who needed rent subsidies — was opened for occupancy in 1979.
A few years later the sisters secured another loan to renovate part of the second school building. This time the Section 8 rent-subsidized loan was not available, however.
So when Village II opened in 1989 with 45 units, it was available only to those who could afford to pay full rent.
To answer the needs of the residents, a bank teller comes once a week, and a barber/beautician is available five days a week.
Different Christian denominations offer Bible study on occasion, and parties are held on Thanksgiving, Christmas and every other holiday.
Sister Ann Boone, who managed the Villages for 21 years, has dozens of stories she can tell.
“One woman could finally get dentures because of the money she saved on her rent,” Sister Boone said. “Another man was delighted to have indoor plumbing for the first time in his life.”
Another woman finally felt safe after living in fear that an abusive husband would hurt her, the SCN said.
Yet another, since she moved to her Village I apartment, can now afford to buy needed medications.