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12.16.21 | Sage Advice

Chicago’s Adopt-A-Landmark Grant Makes Way for Repairs at Historic Bronzeville Church

In recent months, the city of Chicago has shown a growing interest in developing affordable housing and restoring historical structures across the city, and with the Citywide Adopt-A-Landmark Fund, they’re doing just that in Bronzeville. Located only a few blocks from our King Drive Properties, Bronzeville’s Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, found at 4501 S. Vincennes Avenue is one of the 12  landmarks chosen by the city to receive the grant. 

For more than 100 years, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church has served its membership in the heart of Bronzeville. The beloved church is said to have been one of the birthplaces of gospel music and has hosted a number of distinguished guests over the years, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Olympian and Congressman Ralph Metcalfe, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, as well as renowned singers Dinah Washington and Mahalia Jackson. 

Thanks to unprecedented federal support from the Biden Administration, the Citywide Adopt-A-Landmark Fund, which is supporting Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church’s renovation with a $900,000 grant,  will be awarding several Chicago landmarks with millions of dollars annually for essential renovation and preservation upgrades. Once funds approved by the City Council, the money will be awarded to these landmark buildings to cover extensive interior and exterior restoration and improvements,

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church’s elaborate, historic interior

For the nearly 120-year-old church, this means that its roof and damaged  stained glass windows, that have endured harsh weather for decades, can finally be restored to their original beauty. As with other churches, Ebenezer’s membership has dwindled since the beginning of the pandemic almost two years ago. The church hopes that with the new renovations, more community members will be incentivized to visit the historic site and participate in their services. 

An exciting undertaking in the Bronzeville neighborhood, the restoration is not only one of the many developments that are part of Bronzeville’s renaissance, but proves that the city is showing more interest in improving the quality of life in communities like ours. To learn more about other Citywide Adopt-A-Landmark Fund projects happening throughout the city, visit their website here

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church’s exterior
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11.30.21 | Sage Advice

How Spirituality and Religious Involvement Can Help You Age Better

With aging comes many difficulties and moments of emotional turbulence, leaving some to believe they are alone on their journey. However, the aging process also introduces many people to new hobbies, fulfilling purposes and other approaches to life that they had never experienced before. Vibrant living is always at the forefront of our vision at Sage Collective, and one chief aspect of our inspired model is engagement in spirituality and religion. Today, we’re the significant impact that spiritual and religious involvement can have on the aging process.

Sometimes as you age, a sense of community and support is all you need. Churches, and other places of worship, are hubs for mutual respect and are the perfect places to discover connections, engage in thoughtful discussion and participate in meaningful action. 

Despite the anxieties that come with aging, like increased loneliness and isolation, religious attendance has been found to establish a stronger feeling of community support. A recent study published by Geriatrics Journal found that religion and spirituality played a variety of roles in the lives of older adults who participated in them, including strengthening emotional connections and enhancing feelings of comfort and hope during hard times. 

Because religious and spiritual institutions often encourage connecting with those around you, they are one of the best ways for older adults to immerse themselves in a supportive social network and embrace vibrant living. Many religious institutions practice a “door’s always open” policy and will gladly welcome anyone who walks through their entrance. 

Because of these uplifting benefits and more, we encourage you to explore your community and discover a faith of your own if you haven’t already. And no matter the religion, we’re sure that a vibrant community full of love will welcome you with open arms and help produce essential support that will lead to better aging. 

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08.17.21 | Sage Advice

Our Vision for 4108 and 4112 King Drive: A Conversation with Dwain Kyles

As we continue the renovation of the Sage Collective properties at 4108 and 4112 S King Drive, side-by-side buildings in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, we sat down with Board Member and VP for Legal & Development, Dwain Kyles, to understand the project and how it contributes to Sage’s vision for the future. 

Location is everything

Having owned and operated residential property in the Bronzeville neighborhood for more than 40 years, Kyles understands that these buildings were in the perfect location for Sage Collective..

Intending to add to the great cultural history that King Drive represents, Kyles imagines these properties will also foster secure, welcoming environments for the development and enhancement of intergenerational relationships in the future. 

“We want to be very intentional about building community, and we think that King Drive has an appeal of its own. What we hope to do is add to that appeal by providing tangible, beneficial places for gathering, along with programming that will ultimately strengthen the self-image and empowerment of older adults in the community,” says Kyles.

While the neighborhood itself is a large part of the appeal, the buildings’ adjacency to the historic Metropolitan (Apostolic) Community Church also generated interest and inspiration for the properties’ future. “Given the importance of a spiritual basis for the work we are doing, reflected in our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, the proximity to this iconic church was a good sign for us,” says Kyles, “and felt like more than just a coincidence.”

The Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church is brightly lit in sunlight on the corner of S. King Drive and E. 41 St.
The Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, adjacent to the 4108 and 4112 S King Drive properties

Introducing vibrant, high-quality, affordable living within these properties

“Rehabbing the two properties is no small undertaking,” explains Kyles. “Using our passion for vibrant, high-quality, affordable housing as a focus (a topic you can read more about here) we are putting incredible thought and care into the design and build out of the interior spaces. With the support of our board member Mary Frances De Rose, a renowned architectural gerontologist, we have been able to include accessible and supportive living enhancements for future residents of our properties that traditional housing for older adults lacks.” 

“The physical attributes of the buildings are being designed in such a way that we will accommodate some of the desires and conveniences for older adults that are often overlooked. I’m talking about lowering the light switches so someone in a wheelchair can easily reach them, ambient lighting, high-quality cabinetry that is accessible and easier to use, and bathrooms with tastefully designed safety features that will allow our older adult residents to feel both secure and at home,” reflects Kyles. 

The Bronzeville Mural located on 35th Street and State sits directly under the L line.
Bronzeville mural, located on 35th Street and State features the faces of many famous African-American icons

The vision stretches beyond the physical buildings 

Our passion for an exceptional quality of life for older adults goes beyond the physical space, however. This project, like other Sage residences for older adults in underserved communities, will come alive through the integration of interactive and exploratory programming.  

Kyles continues, “While the King Drive properties themselves are a jumping off point, we are focused on the longer-term desire for Sage Collective to serve as a catalyst for real change for our residents and neighbors, government and civic partners, and leaders in the business community by rethinking and redesigning our traditional approaches to providing housing for older adults in our black and brown communities.” 

“We tend to focus on what’s ‘new and poppin’ and what’s the hottest and the latest… while giving little care and attention to those things that have helped us to get where we are, including people. We have seen over and over again that distraction leading to deplorable outcomes and ones that have weakened the fabric of society,” explains Kyles.

Kyles continues, “Our vision for these properties on King Drive — along with all of our ambitious plans for the future — center around creating communities that are rich with diverse ages, families, cultures and experiences. By having the ability to rework the structural barriers hindering intergenerational and cultural interaction and progress, we are capable of establishing environments where there is an appreciation for people of all backgrounds and ages. And when we succeed, we’re stronger as a community, we’re stronger as a neighborhood, we’re stronger as a family,” and most important, we’re stronger as a collective.”

A headshot of Sage Collective's Board of Directors member Dwain Kyles
Board Member and VP for Legal & Development, Dwain Kyles
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03.04.21 | Sage Advice

Vibrant Living Breakdown: Engagement in Spirituality or Religion

At Sage Collective, we believe in meaningful and engaged lives for older adults. Nine Ways of Vibrant Living is our innovative model that champions just that. Our model incorporates everything from health and wellness to cultural immersion to spiritual enrichment — and today, we’re diving deep into the last of those three key elements. Take a closer look at our seventh component of vibrant living, engagement in spirituality or religion:

Religious Roots

Religion is part of our history. You can read our full story here, but before we were Sage Collective, we were Tabernacle Senior Citizens Project (TSCP). TSCP was started in 1978 by Reverend Louis Rawls, founder and pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago’s South Side. Rev. Rawls founded both Willa Rawls Manor (a high-quality housing development for older adults) and TSCP in an effort to better support the aging members of his congregation. Today, we carry on his legacy and tradition by continuing to build upon his concern and care for the community. 

The Impact of Engagement

As Rev. Rawls demonstrated, the church is the center of many African American communities. It’s not just a place to practice worship; it’s also a vital hub for civic engagement, for participating in and finding community and for discovering meaningful connections with one another.

Engagement in spirituality or religion touches on all parts of vibrant living. It brings with it life purpose, inner peace and a greater sense of connection to both the people and the world around you. In fact, studies have shown that those who engage in spiritual or religious activities live longer — some claiming even up to four years longer.

For all these reasons and more, we’ve included engagement in spirituality or religion in our Nine Ways of Vibrant Living. We support and encourage participation in spiritual and religious experiences for followers of all faiths residing in Sage facilities, or involved in Sage programs. 

The inside of a church, with rows of pews before large stained glass windows
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