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Anchored in community

Posted by | Catholic Charities Communications

Bobbie, 75, wouldn’t dream of leaving Catholic Charities senior housing

Bobbie is a human anchor at one Catholic Charities of Oregon senior housing site.



The 75-year-old Navy veteran, amiable and centered, has lived in the Portland building since 2009. She’s become a popular resident who navigates trips to concerts and festivals, using free bus tickets she obtains from Tri Met.

“I really like it here,” Bobbie says, fondly looking around the community room as residents chat, make puzzles and sometimes laugh uproariously.

Bobbie as a teen, not long after having moved to Oregon from Iowa.

She explains that if she weren’t living here, she would miss friendships and togetherness.

“If I were living alone in a house, I wouldn’t know so many people. Here I know a lot of people,” she says with a laugh. “I like people.”

She spent her early childhood in Iowa but moved to Oregon as a teen in 1964 with her family. Her father was a lithographer and her mother a housewife who also did odd jobs.

Bobbie served in the U.S. Navy 1966-1970, stationed at Moffett Field in California.

Her job was keeping track of parts for hundreds of airplanes. Her department had a computer that filled a room, required punch cards and needed to be air conditioned.

Her service earned her a free college education, which she took advantage of, completing a business degree at Portland State University.

She then worked in accounting at the Portland School District and later became a payroll and human resources officer at a lumber mill in Clackamas County. She stayed for 24 years.

“I really liked that job,” she says.

Bobbie became an accountant after serving in the Navy and earning a business degree from Portland State University.

Her marriage went sideways, but she has a beloved daughter who lives nearby and visits often. Bobbie has three grandchildren, including a Girl Scout granddaughter who has uncommon luck selling cookies at Bobbie’s building.

Bobbie was living in a house in Gresham when she decided she wanted to live closer to her daughter and downsize.

“I liked the location,” she says of her building. “It’s a nice place to live. You are safe. . . . And Catholic Charities is a good advantage here. They help us a lot with different things. We are all low income here; we need the help.”

As an example, Bobbie reports that Ema Erikson, the building’s resident services coordinator, is helping people find assistance to pay for good internet.

“Ema bends over backwards to help,” says Bobbie. “She is very very good at her job.”

Erikson leads a weekly bingo game in the community room. “Everybody is all happy and having a good time and Ema says the funniest things,” says Bobbie.

“We can come down here and visit and get to know each other,” Bobbie says. “If we had no place to go we would be sitting in our apartments with no place to visit. That’s not good for us.”

Bobbie appreciated a recent health fair run by Catholic Charities staff and a team from Providence.

“A lot of people can’t get out to get vaccinations,” she said. “It was nice they came here to do it.”

Bobbie sets off on a cruise with her daughter.

Bobbie recalls a recent birthday party for a resident who was turning 94. “She was so happy and she wore her funny hat with all kinds of things on it,” Bobbie says, beaming at the memory. “It’s nice to have community where everybody gets together, and we can visit.”

Bobbie sums up her feelings about her building and its people this way: “I don’t plan on moving.”

Bobbie leads outings of Catholic Charities senior residents, including to Mount Angel’s Oktoberfest.