Sisters focus on future to continue serving community
A haven — filled with grassy thoroughfares and flowering pear trees in the summer and snow-covered crests in winter — has been the home of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God for more than 90 years.
As they plan for the future, the sisters want to retain the tranquil setting on the 33-acre site on the border of Whitehall Borough. They also are drafting plans that will meet the needs of the community, likely with the creation of affordable senior housing, program space and a palliative care clinic and life transition center for caregiver support and bereavement services.
“Our vision is to create a unique and integrated model of care and services to serve seniors and the broader community, in addition to continuing the spiritual and child care services currently available on our Whitehall campus,” Sister Joanne Brazinski, OSF, who is the General Minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God, said in a statement on Monday.
For more than a year, the Sisters — with the help of community and business leaders, and a market study — have been crafting a plan for the property, said Robyn Gallentine-Moeller of the Sisters' development and communications office. Based on feedback, there is a need for senior care in the area, she said.
To this end, the Sisters have are collaborating with organizations to apply for funding next month toward construction of a senior tax credit community with the development of 40 to 60 units serving low- to moderate-income seniors on the site, Whitehall Mayor James Nowalk told council members last week.
“I really like the idea,” said Nowalk, who has been involved in meetings alongside the mayors of Castle Shannon and Bethel Park for the planning of the property's future.
“The thoughts of the Sisters turning it over to some developer – it loses its history and character of what it's been. This is very much along the lines of how the Sisters have used the property.”
Nearly 45 of the 98 Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God worldwide, a congregation of women religious, live on the Whitehall campus, Gallentine-Moeller said. Fourteen of the 45 Sisters in the United States are 90 years or older.
With many of the Sisters getting old, and less woman joining the religious field, leaders at the Whitehall campus have said that they must formulate a plan for the future of the property, which serves as the main center of operations for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God.
Whitehall officials received a request from the Sisters, seeking certification from the borough's code enforcement officer, Jack Sims, ensuring that their plans for the property meet conditions of the borough's zoning ordinance, Nowalk said.
The Sisters also requested a letter of support for the plans from Nowalk and borough council by Feb. 15 — when the next round of funding applications are due to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority, where the Sisters' are making application, he said.
Council members said they will draft a letter and vote on its approval at their meeting Wednesday.
This is just one of the short-range plans for the site, Nowalk said. Long-range plans also are being created.
If this project moves forward, it would either be through new construction or renovations, Moeller said.
The Sisters have collaborated with Family Hospice and Palliative Care, Community Life, Presbyterian Senior Care and Jefferson Regional Medical Center, “to further develop proposals,” Brazinski said. “We are also continuing to explore the potential for additional services to seniors and families.”
Requirements, through all of this, are that any plans must include keeping the Sisters' mission to help others and the integrity of the green space, Gallentine-Moeller said.
Whitehall officials agreed, this space is important to maintain.
“That's a great asset to this community,” Councilman Phil Lahr said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Baldwin Borough pool closes for repairs, residents may use Brentwood pool
- Overgrown trees leave Brentwood residents frustrated
- Baldwin settles lawsuit for $7,500
- Highlander Summer Camps allow kids to explore interests
- Pleasant Hills family’s beach vacation takes tragic turn
- Study explores potential changes to busy Route 51 corridor
- Brentwood celebration kicks off Friday with street fair
- Bus route to return to north Baldwin
- Officials take first step to transform vacant Brentwood properties
- Baldwin Borough Council looks to clarify zoning rules