November 30, 2017
The Arlington Retirement Housing Corporation received a $10,000 grant in 2017 from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Community Investment Funds grant cycle to help vulnerable seniors living in Culpepper Gardens who can no longer afford the cost of assisted living care age in place. They shared the following testimonial from one of their clients to demonstrate the impact of this support on its community.

“Culpepper Garden is the best thing that has happened to my mother in her life,” says Shirl Smith, youngest daughter of Francine Smith. After living in Culpepper Garden independent living for seven years, Francine began having memory problems and the family was concerned for her health and ability to care for herself. Francine was reluctant to move into Assisted Living, but through the common sense and welcoming approach of staff working together with her family she agreed to accept more help with daily living and moved into Culpepper Garden assisted living in 2013.

Francine will turn 90 in December 2017. Shirl explained that her mother is a person who didn’t have much of a social outlet and spent most of her time alone. A main reason Francine moved to Culpepper Gardens was because she could have her beloved dog, Jellybean, with her. And, she still enjoys the Kissable Canines, when they come to visit Culpepper Garden twice monthly. Culpepper Garden assisted living’s social environment and just being present for games and activities has been very good for her.

Born in France, Francine was a war bride, who married and moved with her GI husband to West Virginia. During their early marriage, when her husband was in the Army, they moved frequently.

After 23 years of marriage, Francine and her husband divorced and she took responsibility for keeping the family together. Francine always worked while caring for her three children. She never missed a day of work during the 20 years she held a minimum wage job at G.C. Murphy’s, a five and dime store. She was very frugal and managed to put aside some savings because she didn’t want her children to worry about her as she got older.

Francine receives a monthly pension of $33.75 from G.C. Murphy in addition to her Social Security and has depleted her limited savings that once helped to pay for assisted living care.

Francine always said her children were “her life” and her oldest child, Eddy and youngest child, Shirl, are actively involved in her life and care. Shirl felt relief knowing that her mother was in good hands at Culpepper Garden assisted living. “I know the staff has her best interests at heart,” she said, “And that we’re very much a part of the team.”

Please consider a donation to the Community Investment Funds to support support neighbors like Francine Smith and her family.