Apartment residents affected by Ferguson unrest

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The unrest in Ferguson has altered the residents' routines at senior apartments not far from the police command center and protests.

Street closings prevent them from shopping and keep relatives away. Residents spend more time indoors, especially at night, and blinds on the first floor are closed. A security guard is working extra hours. Residents complain of noise of sirens and booms from smoke and tear-gas grenades.

While added safety measures have been implemented at St. John Neumann Apartments in Jennings, on the eastern border of Ferguson, residents are trying to live life as always — even with the imposing police command center set up across Lucas and Hunt Road from the apartments.

Willie Mae Keel, a resident at St. John Neumann since 1994, talked in a common area inside where a couple of bulletins from Holy Name of Jesus Parish in north St. Louis County had been left on a coffee table. She took a philosophical look at the unrest in Ferguson. "Everything has changed all over the world," she said. "Right now, everybody is all stressed out. We have to be happy anyway."

Keel noted that St. John Neumann Apartments is "a very nice place. A long time ago there wasn't a place like this for older people. Now, we have this, and you can thank Cardinal Ritter (Senior Services) for that."

Even before the unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, Asher kept in contact with a Jennings police officer who oversees a neighborhood watch. She also has a good relationship with the next-door neighbor, Kenneth C. Hanrahan Elementary School. Students have visited and put on programs with residents.

The property manager told of people who are sharing items from a food drive for residents who can't get to the store. Asher usually keeps some items on hand anyway, and a church group stops by with food and other items once a week.

Programs and services at all of Cardinal Ritter's housing units are designed to meet the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental needs of residents. Cardinal Ritter typically provides a service coordinator, health promotion nurse, activities, transportation and other services.

Sister Suzanne Wesley, chief executive officer of Cardinal Ritter, praised the staff at St. John Neumann for their dedication and for keeping residents busy and occupied and "being with them when fear overwhelms them and they need to talk." 



Read all stories on the unrest in Ferguson at www.stlouisreview.com/ferguson.

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