By JD Herman

Communities thrive when people have access to quality, affordable homes and are engaged. While staying involved in the community is beneficial to everyone, it is especially critical for our seniors to have an active role in the community.

Pilgrim Place (I & II) in the East Aldine Management District is ensuring our seniors remain vibrant and engaged by offering innovative perspectives on independent living. A robust slate of activities and facilitated interaction with volunteers helps area seniors find purpose and meaning while building new and lasting friendships. These inclusive activities provide a sense of independence and are good for both the bodies and souls of our seniors.

Pilgrim Place is comprised of 2 units. The original unit, Pilgrim Palace I, was founded in 1982 and has 120 units, managed by Debra Morris. In 2010, Pilgrim Palace II was opened. This 60 unit facility is managed by Jalisha Abraham and guided day to day by Coco Martinez, who has been resident service coordinator at the complex for over 5 years. What separates these facilities from other senior apartment communities is the commitment of managers and staff who strive to create a sense of place for everyone.

It’s obvious they are doing things right as both facilities run at capacity with waiting lists of up to a year.

“Pilgrim Place is sometimes mistaken as a nursing home, but it is really just a great place to live for our more senior neighbors” says, manager Coco Martinez who, aside from quality housing, is also responsible for making sure there are activities on site for the residents. Coco and her team were also able to provide a Summer Camp this year, thanks to the enthusiasm of Sory Mingo, a highly energetic volunteer, and a $2500.00 grant from the East Aldine Management District. The camp included safari and beach-themed days where residents were encouraged to dress up and participate in fun games and activities. “These events were such a success that some of the seniors cried when they were over,” notes Mrs. Martinez. They plan to follow up with exercise classes, led by Ms. Mingo, and are actively looking for computer lab volunteers to help seniors become savvy with surfing the internet. Volunteers can also sign up to help celebrate holiday events year round. The next opportunity is a party in honor of Grandparents Day on September 7th from 11:00am to 3:00pm. You can also check out Bingo Nights, which are sponsored once a month (but “pick up” games – organized by residents – are always afoot!) Friday’s are designated Movie Nights, so bring popcorn!

Coco’s team also listens to resident input and suggestions with a keen ear. “Many folks were voicing a need for transportation to and from grocery stores, pharmacies and other events that are essential in maintaining independence,” she says. This feedback led Pilgrim Place to purchase a 18-passenger shuttle bus (via HUD funding) and create a  weekly bus schedule.”

Big thanks to Coco, the team at Pilgrim Place and the many volunteers, like Sory Mingo, as their community involvement builds stronger and healthier communities in which we all thrive!

Pilgrim Place 1

4655 Aldine Mail Rte Rd,
Houston, TX 77039

L to R: Debra Morris, Katrina Jackson, and Lori Smith at Pilgrim Place 1

Pilgrim Place II

4663 Aldine Mail Rte Rd,
Houston, TX 77039

L to R: Jalisha Abraham and Coco Martinez at Pilgrim Place 2