May 22, 2022
Our Center has once again been honored to be a recipient of a grant from the Catherine Kennedy Home Foundation. Mary Levesque (our grant writer) and I were invited to a tea at First Presbyterian a few weeks ago to receive our funds. Linda Hundley presented us with a check for $20,000 to help elders, primarily with utility bills and rent, or other needs. We have been blessed to receive this grant every year since it was established in 2003. Sister Isaac always had a special place in her heart for the elders in our community and the Foundation recognized her dedication to seniors; in turn, they are very pleased to see that we are carrying on Sister’s work. It’s only been a few weeks since we received our funds and we’ve already helped 8 seniors with utility bills and 5 with rent.
For those that don’t know, I’d like to share a little history of how the Foundation came to be:
The Ladies Benevolent Society of Wilmington, formed in 1845, was a group dedicated to the care of elderly poor women. They initially sponsored a home on 7th St. known as “The Old Ladies Rest”; as they grew, they moved to different Wilmington locations, ending up at 207 S. 3rd St. . It operated as a non-profit, non-sectarian rest home from 1852 to 2000. Catherine DeRosset Kennedy (1800-1889), was a Methodist church leader who founded the Society. Upon her death in 1889, the rest home was re-named in her honor. It was believed to be the oldest residential facility for the elderly in the United States. Originally, residents were limited to women 62 and older; in 1964 the rules were altered to admit men and married couples as well. For over 60 years, annual fundraising teas were held as society events in Wilmington. Initially, they were linen teas, receiving linens for use in the house; they then became “silver teas”, accepting gifts of old family silver.
In 1968, seventy-two seniors lived in the home, but occupancy dropped steadily in the 1980’s; the Home closed in 2000 due to a decline in residents and the health care coverage. The Home’s board reorganized as a charitable foundation in 2001, using its endowment to continue the mission to aid groups meeting the needs of the elderly. Each year they have awarded grants to support charitable, non-profit organizations involved in providing services to improve the general health and welfare of the elderly of New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties.
Please keep us in your prayers as we do our best to serve the seniors of our community during these challenging times. We are still operating on a limited basis with ‘curb service’; looking forward to expanding our operations in September.