As the first intergenerational apartment community developed by Meta Housing Corporation, Vermont Family Apartments demonstrates how a new multifamily community can meet the needs of neighborhood residents in a unique way.
The local Councilman’s office in South Los Angeles identified the need for housing specifically geared toward grandparents caring for their grandchildren. Meta Housing met that need by developing a 49-unit, award-winning property which offers a comfortable, modern living environment tailored specifically to intergenerational families.
The project was designed to include special common spaces, including a full-service art studio and classroom, to encourage interactivity among neighbors. In addition, families living in the Vermont Family Apartments enjoy a community garden where they grow their own vegetables, as well as special community outreach programs which help connect grandparents with local services that can assist them in caring for their grandchildren.
EngAGE programming at Vermont Family Apartments is designed to be intergenerational and accessible to all of the residents, which is one of two family buildings that EngAGE serves (Pacific Avenue Arts Colony in San Pedro is the other). Program staff have listened carefully to the residents and worked to provide resources to meet their needs – some of them very basic. Many adult residents work and/or are care-givers. Providing regular, fun opportunities for socializing, and offering consistent staffing to build relationships, in addition to the formal programs, are helping to shape a true community.
Birthday Party: The monthly birthday celebration is an opportunity to share cake and sometimes a complete meal. Recently resident seniors and children celebrated with roast chicken, salad, and birthday cake with fresh strawberries. It was a great party, and the birthday resident enjoyed and was grateful for the festivities. Raffle tickets are given to residents when they attend an EngAGE event or class, and the Birthday Party is the time to draw the winning raffle ticket for a $25.00 gift card.
The weekly Gardening, Health and Nutrition Class gives residents the opportunity to raise their level of awareness on various health issues. It also provides them with information, resources, and opportunities to share their knowledge with the group. The Gardening Class meets every Thursday, and once a month residents participate in a Health and Nutrition Class. Recently harvested from the garden: red potatoes, green onions and lettuce. The garden needs TLC as we look forward to Spring.
A recent healthy cooking class used fresh arugula picked that morning. The Instructor mixed collard and mustard greens with smoked turkey tail for a delicious combination, which was served with oven barbecued chicken. The students prepared the sweet potatoes and cooked the cornbread in the skillet. Everything was delicious and healthy.
Those residents who attend class regularly are members of the Gardening Committee and are provided keyed access to the garden. These Committee members are the back-bone of the community garden, and visit it regularly to clean up and ensure that it is watered. All residents can visit the garden at any time by contacting a Committee member or any EngAGE staff.
Crafts and Jewelry: Instructor Toni Byrd offers mediums and instruction for all ages and levels. Art has been shown to integrate learning and unlock creativity in other areas of life. Children came to the class again this month and created the famous rubber band projects that are so popular with kids right now. They also had creative ideas for other jewelry.
Game Night: Residents meet in the Community Room on the second Friday of each month for this community-building event. The featured Game in February was Uno and for most, it was the first time they’d played. The newness added to the humor and fun of the evening. The residents found the game entertaining and there was a winner! A Valentine’s Crafts project was also included in the evening fun, and light refreshments were served.
~Toni Byrd, Program Assistant
EngAGE offers a variety of classes, workshops, and special programs at each
of our communities. These posts highlight just a small sample.