For the past five years, Linda Merrill has found friendship and a strong sense of purpose at the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care.
“I come here for the companionship,” said Merrill, 66.
As a client enrolled in the adult day services, Merrill takes a van service from her home in Oak Creek to the center on 2801 E. Morgan Ave. three times per week. Merrill said she enjoys having the chance to engage with people and partake in daily activities that range from art projects to massage therapy.
“This is a good place,” explained Merrill, who said she suffered from depression and loneliness prior to her enrollment at St. Ann’s. “Here, there’s always something to do.”
St. Ann’s is now expanding to the North Side. The new Bucyrus Campus will be built on a 7.5-acre plot at 24th Street and North Avenue. Community members, funders and St. Ann Center staff recently gathered at the site for a ceremonial groundbreaking.
Founded in 1983 by Sister Edna Lonergan and the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, the St. Ann Center offers an intergenerational approach to health and education services for adults and children. The South Side center, which was built in 1999, serves more than 200 children, older adults and people with disabilities each day.
The North Side center will cater to the needs of local residents, said Lonergan, president of the St. Ann Center. “It will be run and operated by the neighborhood, for no one understands the needs of this neighborhood more than the people who live here.”
The two-story building will provide 80,000 square feet of space, which will be used for a multipurpose, intergenerational care facility. Inside, the campus will include a medical clinic, dental clinic, wellness program and classrooms, as well as an indoor lap pool and intergenerational playground. Exterior plans include a 500-seat band shell, playgrounds and community gardens.
“This is a new beginning for this community,” noted Alderman Russell Stamper at the groundbreaking. “The St. Ann Center will be an anchor to jump start more development.”
Lonergan said that the center will bring an estimated 200 jobs to the North Side community and will provide services for more than 400 people each day.
“Seeing this mission come to the neighborhood is absolutely incredible,” said Lorraine Burroughs, a volunteer for the Milwaukee County Commission on Aging.
The $20.5 million project will be completed in two phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion by September 2015.
“What St. Ann’s does is miraculous,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “And this is something we need more of in our community.”