How did Harvest Houses begin?
Harvest Houses is a heartwarming success story. The concept grew from an idea developed by Sister Jeanne André Brendel, O.P. Sisters of St. Dominic, Amityville. From 1978 to 1985 Sister Jeanne worked tirelessly with the help of John Spellman, Esq. to make the dream a reality.
In 1978, Sister Jeanne was Director of an Outreach Program in Nassau County where she witnessed many cases of seniors living alone and suffering from isolation and deterioration. One particularly tragic case involved an eighty-five year old gentleman, living alone and dying of malnutrition. Sister Jeanne believed the cause of death was not lack of food but was loneliness.
Case after case demonstrated the acute needs of senior citizens and verified the prevalence of a critical reality - the lack of options in housing for the elderly. As people aged, they often were no longer able to physically and financially care for their homes. The average waiting time for County Senior Citizen apartments was eight to ten years.
From 1978 to 1985 Sister Jeanne searched for a location, raised funds and overcame antiquated zoning laws that eventually led to the US Supreme Court. In 1985, the favorable Supreme Court decision enabled the establishment of the first family shared-housing model for the elderly on Long Island.
Harvest Houses first opened its doors in Syosset, NY in 1985 followed by Lake Grove, NY in 1990 and Floral Park, NY in 1998.