120th Anniversary For Former School
A very special place for Detroit’s senior population is celebrating a signficiant anniversary.
Dave LewAllen takes us inside the historic building that is home to the St. Patrick Senior Center.
It’s a building—and its reached a significant milestone—but it’s what happens inside the walls of the former Girls Catholic Central High School now that is of primary importance for Detroit’s senior population.
It’s meal time at St. Patrick Senior Center.
For nearly 40 years, thousands of seniors have received a daily home-cooked, nutritious meal at the noon hour.
Sister Mary Watson, a Racine Dominican nun, started the program by feeding seven seniors in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.
“It was the beginning of opening my heart,” said Sister Mary Watson, founder of the St. Patrick Senior Center.
In the years since, thousands have been served meals in the basement cafeteria of the former school building.
“We do understand that for many older adults, it’s the only meal that they receive so we are known for giving generous portions and we do have some wonderful individuals and organizations who do help us provide this meal,” said Satrice Coleman-Betts, executive director of the St. Patrick Senior Center.
As important as the meals are—the seniors’ lives are also enriched by the many activities and health and wellness programs offered at the Center. A game of cards among friends makes for a good morning.
“You meet such wonderful people and you interact with such wonderful people and you are here with caring people, people that actually love you,” said Dorothy Howard.
There are reminders everywhere of the building’s history.
A class photo still adorns a wall on the first floor.
And room numbers have been left intact as well.
On the second floor is this beautiful auditorium.
The school was built 120 years ago—and students were educated here until it (was) closed in 1969.
Sister Mary took over the building in 1973.
An initial grant from the Kresge Foundation helped make it more accessible for the seniors. It’s been preserved and maintained since. In this anniversary year—Sister Mary is planning to reach out to the building and construction community for additional support.
“Maybe could help us do a room over and put your name on it and little things like that help a lot. Some of them need a little painting over and some need a little plastering on them but we try out best to keep them up. Sometimes it’s nice to get a professional in to get some of this work done and they would enjoy it too,” Sister Mary said.
Click here for more information on the St. Patrick Senior Center.
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