“I love it here,” says Carmen Contreras with a smile, a senior who lives at the Donald W. Kent Residence, located in Northlake, a suburb in West Cook County.
Carmen was born in Puerto Rico and came to Chicago with a family friend when she was very young. She worked several jobs ranging from a nail factory to school to hospital.
Carmen lived with her daughter, Marisa, a few blocks from the residence when it was announced the new affordable senior apartment building would be built. At her daughter’s suggestion, she applied and was approved to move in before construction was even finished. “I would pass by during construction and say to my daughter ‘There’s my building!’” Carmen says smiling. She has lived there ever since.
Carmen has four children, one lives a few blocks away, another in Naperville and two in Texas. She has 10 grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and 1 great great-grandchild. She has their photos adorning her neatly organized one bedroom apartment. She enjoys having company and likes to cook for them. Her favorite meal to eat and cook is, arroz con gandules – rice with pigeon peas – a very popular meal in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America. She often cooks the meal for birthday potlucks held at the residence’s Community Room.
When asked what she likes about the residence, she says with confidence “It’s quiet here, I like that there is security all day and night.” Her daughter, Marisa, even has expressed an interest in moving into the residence, she is 56 years old and still has to wait a few years in order to eligible.
Residents can enjoy a variety of activities with their neighbors, bingo, game nights, exercise groups and book clubs. Carmen enjoys playing bingo every Friday, she doesn’t win much but likes the atmosphere. She mentioned she used to attend dances, but her “body doesn’t let her anymore.” There is a photo of her dancing at one of the events a few years back on her fridge.
Donald W. Kent residence has been in operation for five years celebrating its anniversary this coming June. The building has 72 apartments currently housing 75 residents. It has a lot of in-house facilities including exercise equipment, a laundry room, an on-site transportation bus and a large community room. Carmen often utilizes the treadmill for daily exercise, especially in the winter when it’s too cold to walk outside. She has made many friends with her neighbors and even staff. She speaks very highly of the personnel that help manage the property. “They are wonderful! Anything you need, they look out for you,” Carmen said.