Sitting in Laurie’s new apartment with her and two of her three sisters, it’s hard to believe that this photograph of her was from just last month. In this picture, Laurie Rennae is sitting on the front steps of the small apartment building she had been staying in, waiting for her sisters to pick her up. Her face shows the weariness of having spent too much time in an unsafe and overpriced apartment. But there’s a glimmer of hope in there too. It’s moving day. Laurie was moving into a brand new affordable senior apartment building, Ridgewood at Village Square in Gorham, Maine. In fact, Ridgewood was so new that Laurie was the first resident there and lived in the 24-unit building all by herself for two weeks!
Like so many other seniors in Maine, Laurie struggled to find an affordable, safe, quality home. She was bouncing around between friends’ and families’ houses and substandard apartments, but had hit rock bottom in her most recent apartment. This overpriced, second-floor walk-up apartment posed serious mobility issues, and the lack of insulation and heat created dangerous living conditions for Laurie,…
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Buses are rumbling down the streets and school bells are ringing. It’s official… back to school for kids all over Maine and New Hampshire this week! As they don their backpacks and lace up their sneakers, we wish everyone a great school year filled with fun and learning.
Students: expand your knowledge, make new friends, try new things, and be the best you you can be. Teachers: Thanks for all you do every day to support your students. And to the nearly 500 school-age children who live in Avesta Housing communities: we’re rooting for you!
Avesta Resident Service Coordinator Nick Kjeldgaard catches up with Yohanita before she starts fourth grade.
We caught up with a few Avesta kids earlier in the week and asked them about school. And while they all shared great excitement for going back to school, their reasons varied:
Ariane, 7th grade: I love school because it gives me new opportunities to learn. I love doing new science experiments, playing flute, and singing in the choir.
Yohanita, 4th grade: I like hanging out with…
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Avesta Housing resident Judy Pulsifer of Stonecrest in Standish, Maine has lost 120 pounds, thanks to inspiration from an Avesta-sponsored cooking class offered at her property last year. Judy says learning how easy it was to make healthy, budget-friendly food like roasted vegetables and soup motivated her to lose the weight she’d always wanted to lose. Before her commitment to getting healthy, she had become a recluse in her apartment. She had low self-esteem, was lonely, unable to shop for herself and couldn’t enjoy activities with her grand kids.
After a gastric bypass, other residents at the property joined Judy in her quest to start eating healthier. They began using the buddy system to keep each other on course. Instead of bringing each other cookies, they brought fresh vegetables from the Stonecrest community gardens, which also increased her interest in gardening. They looked forward to their regular cooking classes and encouraged the group to continue.
After losing 14 lbs in the first two weeks, Judy began eating a mostly vegetarian diet, became devoted to portion control and never deprives herself. She says her new lease on life allows her to participate in many new…
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Sitting on the couch in her new living room at the Adams School Condominiums, Karen McWatters talks about the blue and green rug underfoot – her first purchase for her new home. She built the room around its ocean-like hues, adding green pillows and sea-glass colored vases and candle holders. The whale décor scattered around the condo is a coincidence, she says – her new husband, Kevin, is a fan of the Hartford Whalers ice hockey team, as evidenced by the two ball caps that have prominent (if begrudging, on her part) placement on the console table.
She explains that her recovery has hit a bump, and she needs another surgery to walk comfortably on her prosthetic leg. She faces weeks of post-surgery recovery in a wheelchair. She’s all the more thankful now for her new home, which is fully handicap-accessible.
No matter their provenance, the nautical touches seem right at home in the Munjoy Hill condo, where bay windows afford a glimpse of the ocean. Karen closed on the condo last August, and she’s looking forward to walking down to the ocean this summer. Even though…
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Update: The artwork created through this partnership will be featured as part of Portland’s First Friday Art Walk on Feb. 7 at Oak Street Lofts! Bayside East residents will be at Oak Street Lofts to share the special objects that inspired the artwork created by the students. We hope to see you at 72 Oak Street from 5-8 p.m.!
Behind each piece of artwork hanging in the community room at Bayside East is a story. There’s the story of the treasures brought home by a young man stationed overseas, or the story of a cultural tradition transplanted in a new community. And there’s the simple story of preserving a community’s history through newspaper clippings.
Looking at the 11 prints on the walls, the stories might not be apparent. But for the residents of the Portland senior community, the artwork represents memories of cherished items collected over the years, as seen through the eyes of local art students.
A Bayside East resident shows Maine College of Art students…
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