A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington Ladies Home reaches first million of $6m goal to expand 19th century Victorian facility

By Donna Vitucci
Covington Ladies Home

The arc of history lives within the walls of Covington Ladies Home. Since 1894, the Victorian at Garrard and East 7th has been home for this legacy organization, born of charity and rooted in service to our community’s women.

Covington Ladies Home — which West Covington resident Ellen Battelle Dietrick founded in 1886 — provides shelter, aid, and care for elderly women, no matter their ability to pay the full cost of their care. This was an amazing mission 131 years ago, and it’s a mission that continues to this day. Covington Ladies Home is a community anchor and an architectural gem in the Historic Licking Riverside neighborhood.

Did you know that a transformational effort is underway to update this historic treasure? Covington Ladies Home’s Building Our Future capital campaign aims to expand a one floor addition onto its 19th century building. The renovation will provide a bathroom in each resident’s private room — a matter of safety, dignity, and quality of life. Other amenities of the new addition include gathering spaces, an enclosed safe outdoor space, and more. The modern addition will be the best of both worlds, 19th Century charm with 21st Century amenities.

“Expanding our footprint,” said Executive Director Carrie VanDerzee, who took the helm of CLH last August, “will make room for more ladies and allow us to honor our founder, Ellen Dietrick, and her mission to provide exquisite care for elderly women, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

As we welcome the new year, Covington Ladies Home has achieved its first million for the campaign, raised through gifts, grants and pledges. Fundraising continues until this project is completed — a $6 million new building expansion. The cost will be supported by both contributions and financing.

“Not since our founding has CLH embraced such a bold challenge as the Building Our Future capital campaign,” said CLH Board President Becky S. Jones.  “CLH has always diligently and quietly pursued our mission of providing a safe, secure home for senior women regardless of their economic circumstances.   But now the time has come for us to raise our voices once again to ensure that the needs of our senior women aren’t overlooked.”

To this very day, comfort and care 24/7, 365 days a year, is provided with respect, mindful of the dignity of each woman. Covington Ladies Home is a pivotal link in the area’s safety net of care for the elderly. Residents say this is their safe haven, a place of rest where they feel protected, some for the first time in their lives.

It’s unfortunate that women still face many of the same challenges that existed over a century ago —namely disparate wages in the workplace and unpaid careers as homemakers and caregivers. These situations create a disproportionate burden among women and leave them more vulnerable than men to live their senior years in poverty.   CLH provides a dignified home for senior women, helping them remain active and engaged with each other and the community.
“The sense of a truly homelike atmosphere is what I am most proud of as Executive Director,” said Ms. Van Derzee. “Our staff and ladies interact like family. The fact that there is nothing sterile or institutional about our facility puts othe ladies at ease and comfortably transitions them from their homes to a new chapter in their story.”

CLH is Northern Kentucky’s best example of the value and respect we have for senior women.   We invite the community to contribute to Building Our Future to ensure that individualized, personal care continues for the older women we love.  To make a contribution, or to visit the Ladies Home, please contact Carrie at 859.431.6913.

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