A Senior Plants Roots, Enjoys New Hobby

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Eriberta “Ruby” Hall, 72, likes to visit her garden plot in the morning to check on the watermelon, celery, mint and chrysanthemum plants.

It’s part of her daily ritual at St. Joseph’s Senior Apartments in Oakland, where she has lived for more than two years.

Gardening is a new hobby for Ruby. Before moving to St. Joseph's two years ago, she lived in apartments in Oakland that had little outdoor space much less a communal garden. Now, she’s taking lessons from her neighbors in how to be a green thumb by watching as they tend the large plots. “I’m just learning,” Ruby says. “I’m enjoying it.”

Ruby is grateful to have roots planted firmly in the ground at St. Joseph's. She had searched for affordable senior housing previously, but either didn’t meet the age requirement or felt the locations weren’t secure enough.

A few years ago, Ruby received a letter about applying to St. Joseph's, and she and her companion, Oscar, were approved for a studio apartment. Both live on fixed incomes and their rent is now several hundred dollars less. That savings helps Ruby pay for essentials like medication and utilities.

Living at St. Joseph's has also given the couple an opportunity to make new friends; they attend a weekly Bible study in the building’s community room, where Chinese or Filipino food is served for dinner and a discussion of scripture follows the meal.

When she’s not gathering with friends, Ruby likes to walk inside the gated development. “It makes my heart stronger, a little bit,” she says. Now that Ruby is settled at St. Joseph's, thriving is her focus. “What I have now, I’m OK with that,” she says, “as long as I have a strong body.” 

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