RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Nearly 100 people gathered Thursday night at The Women's Club in Ridgewood for SHARE Inc.'s first ever casino night.
The event was organized by former council member and SHARE board member Gwenn Hauck, and program director Maryann Bennett, and brought in $8,000 for the nonprofit organization's rent scholarship fund.
SHARE was founded in 1979 as an effort to provide affordable housing for Senior Citizens in Bergen County. The organization has two houses — one on Cottage Place and another on Prospect Street — each with about a dozen residents.
"All of us on the board of the SHARE House value the transition that the residents are going through," Hauck said.
"When you get to be a certain age, you can't keep your house or drive your car. Your vision of your future changes and sometimes, it's a kick in the butt.
"All of a sudden you have to rethink these things."
But, Hauck said, SHARE House has been the difference.
"Now you're living with 12 people going through the same thing. Life is never boring because you have a support system.
"At SHARE houses, residents feel like they live in their own homes, but one where they are always cared for."
For $1,500 a month, residents get a bed room, a bathroom to share with one other person, free access to a laundry facility, a live-in homemaker, on-site parking, a common dining room, living room and a cleaning service and three meals a day.
SHARE President Hans Jurgen-Lehman knows just the importance of the organization first hand.
"My parents were living in Florida when my father died, and my mother couldn't say alone," he said.
"She came to stay with us, and she was kind of new to the area. She was kind of shy, not very outgoing."
And so, Jurgen-Lehman signed his mother up to live in SHARE, which helped her mingle and continue life relatively independently, he said.
"People that come to live there get to make a new family for themselves," Jurgen-Lehman said. "That's one of the key elements.
"It's a step in between leaving your home and having to go to assisted living."
Hauck planned the Casino Night in hopes that it would bridge the age gap in Ridgewood. She was pleased to see that it did.
"It was nice to see everyone coming together to support senior citizens in Ridgewood," she said.