WOOD DALE, Ill. — A suburban senior home is looking to house residents with younger people in hopes they’ll positively impact one another.
The proposal would see 60 foster kids between the ages of 14 and 21 and twice as many older adults, living amongst each other in the assisted living facility. While some aren’t thrilled with the idea, others say they are eager to meet their potentially-new neighbors.
Vito Petruzzelli says he was one of the first to call Radcliff Senior Home in Wood Dale home. The 89-year-old is now in his fourth year at the facility.
“I do enjoy it. I enjoy the staff and the residents,” Petruzzelli said. “It’s a nice, lowkey way to enjoy my golden years.”
As a man who loves a good chat, Petruzzelli says he mulled the idea of foster kids moving into the facility.
“Like any normal human being, I thought, well, ‘what does it mean to me if that happens?'” Petruzzelli said. “Will it change my life?”
The program would house the younger residents on their own floor, with a supervisor staff in place. The young adults would also have to meet certain criteria, including good grades and a clean record.
Petruzzelli told WGN News he is onboard with the idea.
“It’s kind of a great idea,” Petruzzelli said. “As a matter of fact, because the program is mutual, there’s a mutuality to it.”
The initiative is the idea of Radcliff’s assisted living facility owner and operator Alan Scimeca.
“There’s 21,000 kids in the system,” Scimeca said. “They’re not all bad kids. Some have been resilient and getting good grades through trauma.”
Scimeca adds that even with such a vast age gap, both groups can offer something special to one another.
“Sixty percent of our residents get less than one hour of visits in a month,” he said. “There’s a need out there to give these kids a family and there’s no shortage of seniors that are excited about being that family.”
But not everyone is thrilled.
“When they first hear (the idea), they envision teens skateboarding down the hallway,” Scimeca said.
An issue with zoning remains a roadblock. Moreover, a city council committee has already voted down the plan. The program proposal will go in front of the full city council on Wednesday.
“The project has no enemies,” Scimeca said. “People just don’t understand it yet.”
Petruzzelli hopes the project gets the green light, so he can pass on a wealth of wisdom to those who may need it the most.