Marian Center: In the Heart of the Campus
by Linda Buchalo
Our second stop on a tour of residential areas on the Misericordia campus takes us to the Marian Center, which is the oldest residence. The campus was once home to the Angel Guardian Orphanage, which closed in 1974, and both the main building and Marian Center now stand in that exact spot. Constructed in 1976, Marian Center is situated within the main building and has two floors, ten apartments, and 88 residents. The apartments are evenly divided—five male and five female living spaces.
Apartments in the Marian Center are designed with an open concept for living room, dining room, and kitchen. To ensure the safety of the residents, kitchens do not have a stove. Each apartment has four or five bedrooms, a den, a control station and laundry room for dirty clothes and storage. Over the years, the space was renovated, with updated flooring, new furniture, updated decor, and an HVAC/air filtration system controlled at the touch of a button. Recently, the project to update the bathrooms, which was halted by the pandemic, has begun again.
The Center has an atrium, which was built with a generous donation from Mike Ditka. Ditka Hall is a unique indoor courtyard with four trees and a skylight that provides natural sunlight. There is also a sensory room and a music room in the attic and a multipurpose room, Studio B, in the basement. Studio B offers many fun activities, such as a vestibular swing, sensory activities, art, movies, and games. Marian residents also have access to McGee Park, an outdoor area where they can hang out and gather for BBQs. The area is protected by a shade sail system that offers protection from the sun.
Also located in Marian Center are the offices for the QIDPs, supervisors, and directors.
Its location within the main building means that Marian Center provides easy access to the amenities and spaces within, including the aquatic and fitness center, the hair salon, Donovan Dental Clinic, the Greenhouse Inn, Lois Gates Courtyard Inn, Jean Marie Ryan Center, the main kitchen, and the main nursing center. As the residents age, more adaptive equipment is required, such as wheelchairs and walkers. The long, wide hallways in the main building lend themselves nicely to this need.
Daytime activities include Developmental Training at Conway in the morning and afternoon, PT/OT services and various clinics that are held on campus. With the warmer weather, residents have cautiously resumed some outdoor community outings and they continue to enjoy hanging out in Studio B or the atrium, playing music in the attic music room, and ordering takeout for parties and cakes for birthdays.
Regularly scheduled activities include Mass in the atrium, music concerts, swimming, and fitness. Additional exercise includes walking and biking down the long hallways. Other planned events include dances, weekly bingo, karaoke, craft activities, movie nights, and parties, parties, parties! Any occasion is reason for a party!
Before Covid, Marian residents were actively involved in the spirit of giving and hope to get back to this soon. They volunteered at the food pantry, made cards and assembled small bags of candy to distribute to veterans at the VA Hospital, and traveled to Collins Elementary School to talk with the students about life at Misericordia. Other community activities included sporting events, movies, dinner, and theater.
Interaction with other on-campus locations has also been affected by the pandemic, but the residents do participate in virtual programming and have participated in the campus parades. And like the community activities, they hope to get back to mingling with other living areas soon.
While many of the residents who reside at Marian Center may require more help, staff ensure that they enjoy a fun and active lifestyle. The group is a mix of young and old who complement each others' personalities. Michele is the social butterfly and knows everyone. Devin is the official greeter at her apartment and greets everyone with a handshake. Jonathan is amazing at basketball and will beat anyone in a game of hoops. Each resident is unique and contributes to the Marian community.
The residents themselves are what make Marian Center such a great place to live, but an added plus is location, location, location! Being right in the heart of the campus, the residents are close to so many activities. During inclement weather, no matter if it’s sweltering hot, pouring rain, or freezing cold, they can step out of their apartments without dressing for the weather, and walk, bike, or travel to the pool and fitness center. How nice is that!