These are unprecedented times and our deepest concerns go out to those directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and those on the frontline keeping our residents of senior housing and skilled nursing communities safe. These dedicated women and men and their families are making extraordinary sacrifices in these difficult times to protect and serve the most vulnerable among us. During these times of uncertainty and change, there often can be a lack of clarity. With conditions changing rapidly, we at Milwaukee Catholic Home continue to make concerted efforts to effectively communicate with our residents, families and staff through a multitude of ways. Lack of clarity often is what underlies fear and anxiety.

We take the precautions seriously and have implemented all necessary steps and followed the guidelines outlined by the CDC, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the state of WI Governor’s office – Safer at Home Order.

We have been blessed to have a Roman Catholic priest living in our community that has graciously offered to celebrate daily Mass and broadcast it live through the inhouse television channel. The Holy Rosary is also prayed together, on that same channel, at 3:30 pm daily. It is a way to raise up our prayers in unison to the entire world community. We also recommend that our residents visit the Diocese website for daily inspiration from our Bishops.

To combat these restrictions, our Life Engagement staff have been working with families to virtually connect with their loved ones using Facetime and Skype on portable devices such as an iPad. This has certainly reduced people’s anxiety about how their loved ones are doing. The response has been overwhelmingly positive!

Most difficult for us has been the social distancing. “We are a community that truly embraces community life and the importance of belonging to something bigger than self, where one has a sense of purpose and belonging.

One of the more interesting experiences for our residents has been answering the question of the day that is posed at our daily virtual chat. Even more enjoyable, has been reading their responses and smiling at the fond memories!

What is our fondest memory of a snow day?

“Wednesday, Jan. 30th, 1947. 18.6in. fell that day and the city was not prepared for it. By 5pm in the afternoon the streets became undriveable. Cars, buses and some streetcars became stalled. People abandoned their cars and walked home. Limited main roads were in service the following Monday. It took over a month to make the city streets reasonably accessible. New snow removing equipment had to be purchased. I was a freshman at Marquette at the time and managed to get home before traffic stalled.” – A resident

“Never had one in Hawaii” – A resident (from Hawaii!)

“1947-snow covered vehicles on Wisconsin Ave. Walked from 17th and Wisconsin to Davidson Theatre (3rd St.) in snow that was knee deep.” – A resident

What is your most Memorable birthday?

“The next one!” – A resident

“I celebrated by 22nd birthday on July 22, 1950, I said yes to my favorite boyfriend at St. Adalbert’s Church. An evening reception for 150 family and friends was held for us. Compliments of my parents.” – A resident

“My 80th birthday featured the gathering of our 5 children, spouses and 11 grandchildren for a weekend of nostalgia and celebration. We hired a trolley that drove us past all schools and locations important to our children. We also made stops where my great-grandparents lived and worshipped at the Cathedral and the east side. We took time for photos along the way including 2 Downer College buildings (now UWM) and some east side homes built by my grandfather. We gathered for a family Mass at the Cathedral before a festive dinner downtown. A favorite harp player was the surprise attraction. Every family brought me a “word” for a gift. A favorite or an interesting ‘word.’ An unforgettable celebration!” – A resident

Please keep all the healthcare workers in your prayers. They are the real heroes in this fight.