“This is what our community is all about,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told a standing-room-only crowd gathered on Milwaukee’s Northside to celebrate the expansion of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care-Bucyrus Campus, 2450 W. North Ave.
“For all the challenges we face as a city, what we’re all about at the end of the day is coming together to try to do what’s right for the people who live here.”
The ceremony marked the completion of construction on the center’s outdoor band shell, dementia care wing, overnight respite center, beauty salon and indoor warm-water pool.
St. Ann Center provides child and adult day care and health and educational services to the community at two campuses; it opened its second, the Bucyrus, in 2015 with several spaces left unfinished. A successful capital campaign and a $5 million grant from Wisconsin’s capital budget allowed the $28 million two-story, 80,000-square-foot facility to be completed this spring.
Speaking at the new Indaba (Swahili for “gathering place”) Band Shell, Barrett congratulated St. Ann Center for its commitment to serving the Northside and strengthening the community through job creation and civic involvement.
Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore; state Rep. Kaylan Haywood II of the 16th Assembly District; Milwaukee Ald. Russell W. Stamper II; Sr. Diana De Bruin, director of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi congregation, and Sr. Edna Lonergan, OSF, founder and president of St. Ann Center.
After Haywood, the youngest state legislator in the nation, mentioned he’d celebrated turning 20 two days before, Stamper observed that for almost all of Haywood’s life, this site had been a vacant lot.
Between 1951 and 1969, many of its homes and businesses were demolished to prepare for construction of the Park West Freeway. After the freeway project was canceled, the remaining buildings were demolished. The vacant land remained a neighborhood concern for decades until purchased by St. Ann Center in 2014 from the city.
The celebration featured African drumming and the untying of a kente cloth ribbon by Auxiliary Bishop James Schuerman and Fr. Byron Haaland, plus a Native American eagle dance, a multicultural blessing and libation ceremony, and a song performed by one of the Bucyrus Campus after-school care children. Another highlight: a performance by praise dancers from Parklawn Assembly of God, which partnered with St. Ann Center to raise funds for the band shell.
With an audience capacity of 250, the band shell will feature family-friendly entertainment and neighborhood talent.
The new dementia care wing has space for 75 adult clients. Four life skills stations—each designed to spark memories of past hobbies for people with dementia—dot the wing’s common area. They include a nostalgic kitchen, nursery, sewing nook and workbench area.
The overnight respite center provides nine bed-and-breakfast-style rooms for frail elders and adults with special needs. This service allows caregivers a break from the demands of caregiving—time for a vacation, business trip or weekend away.
The indoor aquatic center includes a warm-water swimming pool with wheelchair ramp, two lap lanes, a hot tub with a lift and accessible locker rooms. The pool will offer swimming lessons for children, addressing the high rate of drowning among African-American youngsters.
The two-chair beauty salon is wheelchair accessible. The salon, aquatic center and respite will be open to the community. All new areas are scheduled to begin operation by the end of summer.