By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

Helping low-income elderly in the spanerse, socioeconomically disadvantaged Philadelphia neighborhoods of Port Richmond and Kensington age at home safely and comfortably is one of the action items highlighted in the archdiocesan capital campaign case statement of Catholic Health Care Services (CHCS).

“The Church that they helped build is going to be here for them to provide a safety net to them so that they can age gracefully in their own homes, in their own communities, said Stuart K. Skinner, deputy secretary and chief executive officer of CHCS.

The Archdiocese’s Catholic Social Services (CSS), Catholic parishes and numerous local community-based organizations will be among the primary collaborators.

Contingent on funding, Skinner said the $2 million NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) project could be up and running by 2011, with a completion date set for 2012.

Participants will assist in coordinating and facilitating a full range of services seniors need – from allaying financial concerns by helping with the management of finances, completing Medicare forms and accompanying them to the doctor, pharmacy or church to repairing a leaky roof, encouraging participation in senior club activities to reduce social isolation and being supportive to those coping with chronic illnesses.

The program’s services will include a comprehensive geriatric assessment of mental, physical and spiritual health and a care plan to maximize all three areas.

While non-Catholics are included in all aspects of the program, the Catholic elderly will appreciate that clergy and parish volunteers are among those who will be assisting in the spirituality component.

Incorporating existing institutions that operate under the auspices of CHCS and CSS is also part of the plan, including the Cardinal Bevilacqua Community Center, St. Anne’s Senior Community Center, Norris Square Senior Center, Casa Del Carmen Family Service Center and the Immaculate Mary Home Adult Day Program.

Although the program will be open to all seniors in the area, the project will place a special emphasis on those 85 years and older, the isolated and the underserved, especially those from minority groups and non-English speaking citizens.

The archdiocesan campaign, “Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope,” runs through June 2010 and supports all aspects of the local Church. It began with a planning phase in April 2008 as the Archdiocese concluded its Bicentennial celebration.

The campaign’s goal is at least $200 million.

Resources will be allocated in six areas: the 267 parishes; Catholic education; the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul; St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood; clergy retirement, and to the three branches of the Archdiocese’s Catholic Human Services: Catholic Social Services, Catholic Health Care Services and Nutritional Development Services.

For more information about the capital campaign, visit the web site or call the campaign office at 610-896-7312.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or