Aug 29Sharing Her Story Through Poetry
COVID-19 had just arrived in the United States when Barbara Rankin, then 86 years old, received the devastating news that she would lose her home of more than 50 years in Kenosha – where she raised her five children and cultivated a thriving garden.
Unaware that a developer in Houston had bought her mortgage from the bank, Ms. Rankin learned that she had been taken advantage of, though she had dutifully checked each month to ensure her payments were going through.
“This developer in Houston, Texas had bought my mortgage from the bank, and they took the money out but didn’t give it to the state or the county. So even though my money was being deducted every month, my taxes weren’t being paid,” she explained. She described the loss as traumatic and believes that an injustice has been done to her and other people who experienced a similar fate. “Old people work all their lives, and then they are robbed,” she expressed with deep sadness.
Upon losing her home, Ms. Rankin moved into Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Assisi Homes of Kenosha, an affordable housing community for older adults, on March 20, 2020. She is grateful for Assisi Homes of Kenosha and the supportive staff, especially Resident Services Coordinator Cassandra Courtright Krusa. “[Cassandra] is the sunshine in my life. She gives and gives and gives and gives to everybody every day. She has no idea what she means to us. She has good instincts for when somebody needs that extra [support]. Not many people have that, and it’s not something you get trained for; it is out of your heart. We’re very lucky.”
For the staff at Assisi Homes, it is a privilege to provide a supportive home for older adults, like Ms. Rankin, who have spent their lives giving to others. Ms. Rankin had a long career as a programmer and data processing manager, spending many of those years proudly serving as a civil servant with the United States Navy. When she was not at her full-time job outside of the home and caring for her children, she volunteered her time advocating for disability rights, climate justice, and economic development in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In recognition of her activism and leadership in these areas, she was awarded Kenosha Person of the Year in 2002.
Now 90 years old Ms. Rankin isn’t as active as she once was, but Cassandra is quick to remind her that she and her neighbors can still make an impact: “She [Cassandra] gives us the idea that we can affect something, that we are worth something.” Today, Ms. Rankin is making an impact by sharing her poems with her community.
By Barbara Rankin
We came together as seniors,
Some left a home behind.
We ventured in, some slowly,
Not knowing what we’d find.
Some have lost a family,
Some a skill or trade.
Some lost pets and property
And other things we made.
We came to our apartments
We’re a really varied lot.
We’re learning now,
One day at a time,
To thank God for what we’ve got.
With a short supply of tomorrows,
It seems it’s time to find
Reasons to smile and say a quick word
Small reasons to be kind.
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