World Traveler Roseann Calls Notre Dame Senior Home

Mercy Housing California Notre Dame resident, Roseann, has traveled around the world, even living in Israel for six years, where she taught at the Reidman College of Complementary Medicine (1996-2002).

A California native, Roseann grew up in Venice Beach with her dad, mom, twin sister, and brother. “It was a family-oriented neighborhood,” she recently described. She walked to her elementary school. “We took a red wooden streetcar to the middle and high school.”

College and marriage took Roseann just north to San Francisco, where she received her degree in Community Health Education from San Francisco State University and began working as a masseuse. She and her husband planted roots in the city with their son and daughter.

Finding a Home at Notre Dame Senior

After going through a divorce in the mid-1970s, Roseann purchased a home in San Francisco’s Alamo Square, where she decided to set up a small urban community, and along with her two kids, shared living quarters with four other adults.

“It was a very positive experience,” she reflected. “We enjoyed being together and sharing activities of various kinds.” After four years, Roseann decided to sell the home and moved to the East Bay neighborhood of Berkeley.

A friend of hers was living at an affordable housing community on Haight Street and called Roseann one day to let her know that she had seen a notice about Notre Dame on the bulletin board. “I think there were a couple of days left before the deadline to apply,” she recalled. “I just ran right over and signed up. I think about 1,000 people signed up and I came in #9 in the lottery – I lucked out.”

Building a Community in San Francisco

“Here at Notre Dame, we are a community of people from different backgrounds, nationalities, religions, and beliefs,” Roseann said. “I have a community of friends who practice yoga twice a week, and I have a community of friends and acquaintances who exercise together three times a week.”

Centrally located, Notre Dame is located near public transportation and the infamous San Francisco Muni streetcars and BART station.

And living in a community represented by different ethnicities is something Notre Dame residents embrace. Even with an occasional language barrier, this senior community has found a creative way to connect with one another through their Community Tree. The idea of Resident Services Manager, Jennifer, the Community Tree was originally introduced during the pandemic due to having to remain physically distant but is now a gathering place for everyone.

“We saw how it could unify the community,” Jennifer noted. “Not just physically, but also in the exchange of ideas and thoughts without having to be physically in the same place.” She noticed that residents would stop and look at the tree as they passed by.

“The tree is open to everyone regardless of language,” she recently explained. With plain paper sitting next to the tree, residents have been encouraged to write down their thoughts and ideas. “We try to keep it simple and use as few words as possible, but still enough to share and exchange something in writing.”

“Care for your neighbors…your family…your friends.” – Roseann shares words of wisdom.

The community most recently celebrated Pride Month and residents got together to help decorate the tree. “The tree is very colorful,” Roseann said. “It’s important to project a positive message about the LGBTQI community both here at Notre Dame, but in the community at large.”

“My daughter is a lesbian and lives with her wife and their daughter, who is almost 13,” she proudly shared. “I have marched in the Gay Pride Parade three or four times.”

There are times throughout the year when Jennifer will ask a specific question, prompting more direct answers. For example, “What are your wishes for the Lunar New Year?” Or “What do you want for yourself?”

Each message and/or answer is then added to the tree. “People can see and share responses, thoughts, and messages,” Jennifer said. The everchanging tree is popular among Notre Dame residents, “Even if no one is sharing something, they stop and look at it.”

“I like reading other people’s comments,” Roseann added.

Senior Residents Stay Active

Staying active is important to Roseann. “I do like three Zoom classes three times a week,” she shared. Providing health and wellness programming for all Notre Dame residents is a priority for Jennifer. “We do a Fresh Air Fridays once summer starts, which is just an opportunity for everyone to go outside as a group and go for a walk.” The walks are sometimes around the property or go a little further into the neighborhood.

Another popular activity is gentle exercise, which is led by a doctor in Eastern Chinese medicine. This biweekly, 45-minute class consists of gentle movements sometimes focusing on hand movements.

Roseann adds, “I try and participate because I think it’s important.”

Connect Four is another way residents come together. Held the first Friday of each month in the community room, Jennifer named the game, “The Connect Four Challenge” which encourages residents to gather around to challenge one another against several rounds of Connect Four.

“It’s an opportunity where we can connect without much speaking,” Jennifer explains. “It’s wonderful because you don’t need to speak in order to connect with one another.”

“I really appreciate Jennifer,” Roseann said. “She’s always looking for new and different ways to stimulate the residents here. She’s wonderful, and helpful too. Everything is kept clean and in working order.”

Activities for the senior residents don’t just revolve around health & wellness, as Roseann explained. “I enjoy birthday parties and seeing people in the garden. Sometimes just smiling and saying ‘hello’ is enough. I like the community and I don’t know where I would be living alone someplace. It’s just a very positive environment.”