Language brings housing ministry residents together

Franciscan Ministries provides affordable housing to residents, some who come from all over the world. One Marian Park resident who had once been a French teacher now volunteers her time to help her fellow residents learn English. As a result, this group has been coming together for more than a year to form a very special community in Wheaton.

“I’m very glad to receive the English classes. Every class is fantastic. My English is not perfect, but I learn little by little.”
- Roberto Marciano, Marian Park resident from Columbia

Language brings housing ministry residents together

Franciscan Ministries helps give kids an educational boost

Getting kids ready for school from an emotional, social and academic perspective is no small task. Through the Building Bridges summer reading program at Franciscan Ministries’ Batavia Apartments, young residents are getting the best possible start to the school year.

"Franciscan Ministries really cares about the families here and cares about providing experiences for the children and support for the parents. It’s absolutely amazing what has happened here. It’s exactly what we wished for."
- Lisa Hillquist, kindergarten teacher

Franciscan Ministries helps give kids an educational boost

Franciscan Ministries Resident Service Coordinator provides valuable employment assistance

Mohamed Musa was in desperate need of a job when he came to Penny Smith’s office at Franciscan Ministries’ Marian Park in Wheaton, Illinois. Lacking transportation, Penny, Marian Park’s Resident Service Coordinator, suggested they look across the bridge to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital for employment opportunities.

Penny helped Mohamed complete his job application. “Mohamed is a very capable worker, but his previous work experience tending the family garden and later working in a refugee camp in Kenya didn’t fit easily into the boxes for job descriptions, responsibilities, start, and termination dates,” Penny said. “We decided to create a narrative resume that demonstrated his qualifications.”

To Mohamed’s delight, a week after submitting his application, he had an initial interview with Marianjoy Human Resources followed by a second interview with the head of Environmental Services. Within a month’s time, Mohamed was working as a housekeeper at the hospital. He was eventually promoted to a full-time position.

Mohamed has since set up his own Marian Park/Marianjoy employment center. He works with Penny, Stephanie, the Marianjoy recruiter who initially interviewed him, and another individual to help Marian Park residents apply for and secure jobs at the hospital.

“I needed a job and Penny helped me find one. Now it’s my turn to look out for those people who need jobs,” Mohamed said.

Franciscan Ministries Resident Service Coordinator provides valuable employment assistance
Mohamed Musa was in desperate need of a job when he came to Penny Smith’s office at Franciscan Ministries’ Marian Park … More

Franciscan Ministries Resident Service Coordinator provides valuable employment assistance

Mohamed Musa was in desperate need of a job when he came to Penny Smith’s office at Franciscan Ministries’ Marian Park in Wheaton, Illinois. Lacking transportation, Penny, Marian Park’s Resident Service Coordinator, suggested they look across the bridge to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital for employment opportunities.

Penny helped Mohamed complete his job application. “Mohamed is a very capable worker, but his previous work experience tending the family garden and later working in a refugee camp in Kenya didn’t fit easily into the boxes for job descriptions, responsibilities, start, and termination dates,” Penny said. “We decided to create a narrative resume that demonstrated his qualifications.”

To Mohamed’s delight, a week after submitting his application, he had an initial interview with Marianjoy Human Resources followed by a second interview with the head of Environmental Services. Within a month’s time, Mohamed was working as a housekeeper at the hospital. He was eventually promoted to a full-time position.

Mohamed has since set up his own Marian Park/Marianjoy employment center. He works with Penny, Stephanie, the Marianjoy recruiter who initially interviewed him, and another individual to help Marian Park residents apply for and secure jobs at the hospital.

“I needed a job and Penny helped me find one. Now it’s my turn to look out for those people who need jobs,” Mohamed said.

Exercise program encourages Franciscan Ministries residents to climb new heights

An innovative program at Franciscan Ministries’ Francis Heights in Denver, Colorado is breaking down exercise barriers for its elderly residents.

The program, called “Climbing the Heights,” was developed by Resident Service Coordinator Katie Barbier. The goal is to help her residents exercise more and improve their health by doing a simulated walk through the Colorado mountains. For her work on the program, Katie recently received top honors from the American Association of Service Coordinators.

“Our residents lacked physical exercise programs,” Katie said. “Through Climbing the Heights, I wanted to show how simply walking could benefit their health. It challenged them to set personal fitness goals and also increased community involvement.”

To make the walking program fun, Katie and her staff painted a seven-foot mural of Colorado’s lakes and mountains. The mural has a starting point and various milestones marking progress on a 650-mile journey. Residents chose laminated paper figures to represent them as they “climbed” the mountains. To translate miles traveled while walking around Francis Heights, residents were given distances for several locations on the property. These included the stairs, halls, and sidewalks. Swimming, exercise class, and active games were also translated into miles so that they could be added to the activities on the mural.

Helen Nusbaum is one resident who has greatly benefitted from the walking program. At 101 years old, she is the program’s oldest participant, walking one mile each day. “I just don’t feel well if I haven’t done my walk for the day,” she says. Her family even attributes her quick recovery from a broken pelvis to the program.

“We’re seeing many benefits from the program. It has allowed our residents to be independent and help themselves to feel better. They have decreased depression and lost weight through the power of walking,” Katie said.

Helen has become the poster child for Climbing the Heights, encouraging other residents to be active.

“You just have to get out there and do something,” she says.

Exercise program encourages Franciscan Ministries residents to climb new heights
An innovative program at Franciscan Ministries’ Francis Heights in Denver, Colorado is breaking down exercise barriers for … More

Exercise program encourages Franciscan Ministries residents to climb new heights

An innovative program at Franciscan Ministries’ Francis Heights in Denver, Colorado is breaking down exercise barriers for its elderly residents.

The program, called “Climbing the Heights,” was developed by Resident Service Coordinator Katie Barbier. The goal is to help her residents exercise more and improve their health by doing a simulated walk through the Colorado mountains. For her work on the program, Katie recently received top honors from the American Association of Service Coordinators.

“Our residents lacked physical exercise programs,” Katie said. “Through Climbing the Heights, I wanted to show how simply walking could benefit their health. It challenged them to set personal fitness goals and also increased community involvement.”

To make the walking program fun, Katie and her staff painted a seven-foot mural of Colorado’s lakes and mountains. The mural has a starting point and various milestones marking progress on a 650-mile journey. Residents chose laminated paper figures to represent them as they “climbed” the mountains. To translate miles traveled while walking around Francis Heights, residents were given distances for several locations on the property. These included the stairs, halls, and sidewalks. Swimming, exercise class, and active games were also translated into miles so that they could be added to the activities on the mural.

Helen Nusbaum is one resident who has greatly benefitted from the walking program. At 101 years old, she is the program’s oldest participant, walking one mile each day. “I just don’t feel well if I haven’t done my walk for the day,” she says. Her family even attributes her quick recovery from a broken pelvis to the program.

“We’re seeing many benefits from the program. It has allowed our residents to be independent and help themselves to feel better. They have decreased depression and lost weight through the power of walking,” Katie said.

Helen has become the poster child for Climbing the Heights, encouraging other residents to be active.

“You just have to get out there and do something,” she says.