When Frank and Therese Dombrowski, both 84, applied to live at St. Anthony Garden Courts in St. Cloud, they prayed they would one day be able call it their new home. “We’ve never had a new home in all of our lives. We’ve been married 54 years,” said Therese Dombrowski. (Pictured: Bishop John Noonan blesses St. Anthony Garden Courts).
St. Anthony Garden Courts, a 50-unit low-income senior housing community is a project of Catholic Charities of Central Florida. After 8 months of construction, the community opened on October 6 with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and a blessing by Bishop John Noonan.
“Sometimes in our world today, especially in these economically difficult times, we forget about the needs of our elderly people and sometimes we think to grow old is a burden. But I want to remind you that it is important for each person to live with dignity; so today we come here to remind all of us that every person is important in the eyes of God,” said Bishop Noonan to the crowd of over 200 people who attended the grand opening celebration.
Months ago after the Dombrowski’s filled out their rental application, Therese buried a small statute of St. Anthony (patron saint of the elderly) on the complex grounds. “I needed all the help I could get,” laughed Therese. And they were eventually approved.
During the grand opening, Arne Nelson, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, welcomed the residents and thanked all who made this project possible, including the county, the state, construction company Walker and Company, SPM Property Management and many more.
“And of course with the source of every blessing, I thank our Lord, as without him none of this would be possible,” said Nelson.
St. Anthony Garden Courts was designed with safety features, convenience in mind and eco-friendly benefits, such as low energy high SEER rated air conditioning units. “This will keep fixed costs such as electric and water low,” said Nelson. Nelson described St. Anthony Garden Courts as a place of hope for the incoming seniors. “A community like this provides our seniors peace of mind as they age,” explained Nelson.
And for Frank peace of mind is crucial at this stage of life. “At our age, we kind of look for that. Twenty years ago we weren’t interested in that but now we are.”
St. Anthony Garden Courts is conveniently located near restaurants, shopping, medical assistance and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and for the Dombrowski’s this will be a nice change from their current mobile home in rural Osceola County. “We’re kind of secluded. Now we won’t have to get in the car and go seven to eight miles to pick something up from the store,” said Therese. The Chicago-natives are packed and ready to go. “We are going to be closer to church. We can walk a block and half and we’re there. That to me is important,” said Frank.
Things have come around full circle for the 84-year-old couple that has donated to Catholic Charities in the past, explained Frank Dombrowski. “It’s nice to know that as you age, there is somebody looking out for you, and not just neighbor or relative. It’s a stranger who is deeply interested in your well being and that’s how I see Catholic Charities.”