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Normally the phrase "transformative figure" refers to folks in pretty lofty positions. Popes and presidents.  Novelists and scientists. Inventors and explorers who'll travel to the four corners of the Earth, hoping to discover something brand new.

But you really don't have to look that far to find one. Chances are, in fact, there's a transformative figure just up around the corner, maybe even on the street you call home.

[Photo by Shawn Guster of The Coeur d'Alene Press]
Photo by Shawn Guster of The Coeur d'Alene Press

Like Kathy Reed of Coeur d'Alene. She's worked for the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Northern Idaho for more 20 years, currently serving as its Social Services Director. Before that she'd served as a volunteer at the Society for seven years, regularly able, it's said, to find more than 24 hours in a day. "She's a saint, truly a saint," former Society executive director Lynn Peterson told The Coeur d'Alene Press. "St. Kathy is what I always called her."

So, when it came to picking a name for a brand-new, 37-unit housing complex for the low-income elderly, it probably was no surprise that the Society decided to call it the Kathy Reed Home.

Built with funds from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, USDA Rural Development and HUD's Section 202 capital advance grant program, the Kathy Reed Home opened just off Neider Avenue "less than a year after St. Vincent de Paul broke ground," Tom Hasslinger of The Press reported and less than two years after the Society finished the Lynn Peterson House for persons with disabilities that's "a stone's throw" from the Kathy Reed Home.

Kathy, of course, attended its grand opening. "Tears in my eyes," she said. "I don't know what else to say, and to have it named after me is such an honor. It's beautiful and so needed."

Indeed it is. The City estimates that it needs at least 800 more units of affordable housing, The Press said, and the Society's H.E.L.P. center provides one-stop social services to some 1,300 people each month. And even before it opened its doors, the Kathy Reed Home had a waiting list of 80 applicants.

Kathy wasn't the only one to give the project rave review. "This is gorgeous," Chris Copstead told The Press. "When people hear the word low income they think deep-poverty" added Jeff Conroy, the Society's director. "This gives low income class and respect. To me it totally redefines the phrase low income. It doesn't have to be shoddy."

With the completion of the Kathy Reed Home, the Society is now operating more than 250 affordable housing units across its three-county service area. And more is on the way. The Society, reports The Press, is "working on creating more housing opportunities on Homestead Avenue." Given the rave reviews of the Reed Home or the Peterson House before it, you can be sure that the next complex the Society builds won't be lacking for folks who want to live there.


Content Archived: December 2, 2013

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