It takes a community to build a home
Support sustainable senior housing and elder self-determination! Let’s help Earleen build a new home to finish her life the way she wants and deserves.
About 5 years ago my mom was diagnosed with vascular dementia. The doctors think she had a series of mini-strokes that caused brain damage. I needed to be close to her to take care of her, so we moved her all the way from Alabama to Sausalito to be near us- but in doing so, entered one of the worst housing markets in the world.
It’s really hard to find affordable senior housing, in Marin county. The waitlists are so long, we couldn’t even get on them. We started getting pretty desperate. A close friend offered us this spot, in a low-income co-op dock, just 10 minutes from our house, across the street from my daughter's school. It was like a miracle.
My mom can take care of herself pretty well, but she needs some help, and we anticipate that she’s going to need more help in the near future. Now we’re just trying to figure out how to get her into a boat that she can grow old in. A boat with enough room for a live-in caretaker.
My mom worked hard her whole life as a single mom to provide for me and our family. She got her master's degree in Theatre and moved out to the Bay Area in 1967 to work at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. She became the Entertainment Coordinator and later the Food and Beverage Coordinator after a head on collision left her with less mobility. She cared deeply about the people she worked with and was passionate about the Faire in all its dimensions.
"The early Renaissance Pleasure Faires touched our lives in many ways and were also outrageously fun. Earleen was not only a dear friend of Phyllis Patterson, but she was a creative co-conspirator. For many of the very best, and wildest years, Earleen was responsible for keeping the foods we all loved flowing across the counters and into our happy, hungry mouths. Now in her later years, Earleen needs some of that love back. Lets get cookin’ and help Earleen and her family, build her a safe and affordable place to live. I’m in!”-----Kevin Patterson, Executive Director, Red Barn Productions and the Great Dickens Christmas Fair
My mom lived frugally and gave graciously. As a single mom, she earned what she could to care for us. Her life savings is going into building the boat, and Sam and I have put most of our savings into it to help make this happen. I'm an environmental educator with the YMCA, and my husband is a holistic healthcare provider. Neither of us make a lot of money, and we live in subsidized housing provided by my work. Together, we're raising an 11-year-old daughter, who'll be going to college in only 7 years.
We cannot access traditional bank loans in order to build a house boat - a reality that almost landed a crushing blow for this dream. We've been carefully budgeting to fund and manage this project, but there's still a gap. We're turning to you- our extended community- to have a safe home for my mom where she can have a live-in care-taker and live out her life the way she wants.
Here are some of the things that drive up costs but are necessary for this to be a safe, accessible elder home for her to age in place:
- A sturdy ramp with railings
- Accessible bathroom features
- Second bedroom for live-in care taker (given the small square-footage we have available for the boat, this required a second floor and investing in an expensive concrete barge to be feasible)
- Sustainable energy features for keeping low-monthly bills while living on social security income
- Lack of access to low-interest home loans for house boat construction means that we are turning to higher-interest credit lines to fund most of the project
Once this boat is done, my mom will have no available savings- and neither will we. As her family, we are sharing in this risk. We are still paying off bills from her hospital visit last December. Any money that we raise above the cost of building the boat will go towards her end of life care and expenses.
My mom always taught me to be of service to others. Ever since I was little she was always helping people out. She took care of people, gave people jobs when they needed them, and took in people who needed a place to stay. She left all her dear friends and Faire family to move back to Alabama to take care of her own parents. She really instilled that sense of family responsibility to me.
And now I feel like its my responsibility, and all those who she’s helped out, to help her now…. To provide her with the kind of end of life care and security that she deserves.
Thank you, thank you, thank you- all the thanks we can give.
It's going to take all of us to build a home.