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Countians can have fun while supporting elderly

BURLINGTON CITY - How has an organization that provides housing for elderly women sustained itself for 113 years with no city, county or state funding?
/ Source: PhillyBurbs.com

BURLINGTON CITY - How has an organization that provides housing for elderly women sustained itself for 113 years with no city, county or state funding?

"We're always out there hustling," said Grace Schultz, president of the board of directors of the Home for Aged Women.

The nonprofit home at the corner of York and Union streets has subsisted purely on donations from civic and religious groups and proceeds from fundraisers. The home relies heavily on such events as the annual East Union Street yard sale in September, a fashion show and luncheon in October and two bus trips a year.

"We were founded in 1896, and in those days Burlington was the hub of the county really. And the old-timers donated money to the home and (it was) invested. Over the years that sustained us. Now, in the past 25 years, you don't have those kinds of donations that we can invest to run the home," said Schultz, who has been a board member for 15 years. "Especially with the economy the way it is, donations aren't coming in. Electricity is up and insurance, salaries. We have 18 women. They get three meals a day, two snacks, and that's food we have to buy. It's like running your own home having 18 children."

Along with normal operating costs, such as meal expenses, utilities and a state-mandated 24-hour staff, the home must maintain a building that is more than 100 years old.

Fundraisers help pay for repairs and upkeep. One such event is a bus tour Oct. 24 of various sites in Washington, organized by board member Sandy Santucci and her husband, Lou. The cost is $45 per person.

The women at the home are in their 60s to late 80s. They are without the financial means to stay at a traditional nursing home. The only requirements are that residents must be women. Schultz said the home has housed women from all parts of the county.

In 2008, a "Great Gatsby"-themed garden party helped pay to repair damage to the home's heating system and water heater caused by water leaking into the stone foundation.

Schultz said the home may have to replace its second-floor air conditioner.

When the home celebrated its 100th birthday, the building was not air-conditioned. When a hot spell hit, word went out and the community responded with donations and a luncheon was held that paid for a unit to be installed, Schultz said.

But the 13-year-old air conditioner is beginning to give out.

"We're starting to get nervous about it. I have a feeling it might have to be replaced soon," Schultz said.

"Every dollar, every penny goes to the home," she continued. "You use things until they are ready to fall apart. The Chamber of Com-merce is good to us, the Rotary, a lot of the churches, the Medford Women's Club. We try to make it as much of a home as possible. These women have given up their homes, some have no families, some are widows. We're always begging."

For more information about the Washington bus trip, call Sandy Santucci at 609-386-6625. For more information about events or donating to the Home for Aged Women, call 609-386-1709.

Contact: dmaccar@phillyBurbs.com or 609-871-8068