This year, The Little Sisters of the Poor, Jeanne Jugan Residence on Highland Ave. have been celebrating serving the Elderly Poor in Somerville for 125 years! The home has seen and cared for thousands of elderly over the years including multi-generations of families and the Sisters hope to continue their tradition for many years to come.
The Residence originally opened in 1889, after it was decided that there was still a growing need to serve the elderly poor that the existing Little Sisters homes in Boston; one located in Roxbury, the other in Charlestown, could not meet. So “The Holy Rosary Home” was built in Somerville and opened its doors on one of the last days in December of 1889. Holy Rosary Home served the needy elderly of the greater Boston area for nearly 90 years.
In the 1970s, it was determined that the building needed major renovations to meet new codes so The Little Sisters decided to combine the Roxbury home with Somerville (the Charlestown home had been phased out in 1896) in a new building at the Somerville location. The new home went up behind the original one on the same property and the name changed to “Jeanne Jugan Residence and Pavilion,” opening its doors in 1978.
Today, the home can serve up to 111 elderly residents at different stages of needed care. It has hosted clergy and religious sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers, husbands and wives, local citizens and even Hurricane Katrina transplants. The home has had visitors such as former and incumbent Mayors, local celebrities, and Archbishops. The Little Sisters home in Washington D.C. even had an unexpected visit by Pope Francis on his recent visit to the U.S.; the home in Somerville hopes to maybe receive that honor someday.
Part of the Sisters’ mission is to contribute to the culture of life by nurturing communities where each person is valued, the solidarity of the human family and the wisdom of age are celebrated, and the compassionate love of Christ is shared with all. Caring for some of the poorest and weakest, they firmly believe that our elderly should be cherished, respected, and included as a valuable part of our society.
The Sisters continue to run the home with the “Grace of God” and the generosity of local individuals and businesses. A few different fundraising events throughout the year help to keep the home running. One of the most popular, the Annual Christmas Bazaar, falls on Saturday November 14 this year. The Sisters plan to have beautiful gift baskets and raffle prizes again this year as well as their popular beef stew and bake sale, the sale of which helps to keep the Sisters and staff running the home.
125 years after first opening their doors in Somerville, the work of hospitality rooted in such humble beginnings continues at the Jeanne Jugan Residence and Pavilion. Although today there is only one home in the area, the Sisters continue to reach out to serve low-income seniors throughout greater Boston with the same love and devotion of those first Little Sisters who arrived here so long ago. They are proud to be a part of Somerville’s great history!
Anyone interested in making a donation to the home may call 617-776-4420 x390 or visit http://www.littlesistersofthepoorboston.org