Everyone has a story. Here are seven filled with resilience, perseverance, faith and most of all, hope.
Dayton, OH – Anna Luepke’s book, Hope!, shares the stories of seven older people who live in St. Mary Development affordable apartment communities. Their lives of resilience, perseverance, and faith are shining examples of the tremendous impact of affordable housing combined with service coordination.
“Each of our residents has a story,” says Tim Bete, St. Mary’s president. “Some are touching; some are shocking; and each is an example of tenacity, inspiration, and hope.”
In Hope!, you’ll meet Ruth Maxwell and her dedication to others, and Clifford Stumpf who wouldn’t accept failure. You’ll learn about Doris Carson’s caring spirit, and Donna Morrow who turned to God in her troubles. While each story is different, the residents share one thing in common: they live in a St. Mary apartment community, and that—combined with service coordination—has brought significant stability to their lives. They have good homes that are safe and affordable. They have services to help them live independently as long as possible. They have a built-in community with their neighbors. They have dignity.
Anna Luepke, a political science and economics major at the University of Dayton, wrote the book as part of UD’s Ethics and Leadership Internship Program. Anna spent the summer of 2022 interviewing St. Mary residents and creating the manuscript for the book. Prior to the internship, Anna worked on the Moral Courage Project, a human rights storytelling project that focused on access to affordable housing in Oakland, California.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better person to write this book, “says Bete. “Anna brought a rare combination of skills to the book project and captured our residents’ lives in a beautiful way.”
Francine Buchanon, one of the residents interviewed, beautifully summed up the purpose of the book: “Nobody knows what somebody is going through unless they tell you.” Residents were generous in opening up about their triumphs and struggles. The book will make you realize how rare it is to take the time to truly listen to someone else’s story, not in an attempt to solve their problems, but simply to understand who they are and to see their great inherent dignity. Anna now asks herself when she meets someone new, “What stories do they hold? What more do I have to learn?”
St. Mary has developed more than 65 affordable apartment communities with more than 4,300 apartment units and more than half a billion dollars in development cost. Their staff works with more than a thousand older people in our Dayton-area apartments to connect them to the services and programs they need to continue to live independently as long as possible.
Anna Luepke is a political science and economics student at the University of Dayton. She was selected by UD's Ethics and Leadership Initiative for the internship that allowed her to write Hope! Anna worked on the Moral Courage Project—a year-long human rights storytelling project that focused on the housing crisis in the Oakland, California area. This is Anna's first book. You can find her on LinkedIn.
What readers are saying
"I will not forget these stories. Many times I found myself choked up with tears in my eyes while reading. You have created a truly remarkable work of stroytelling!"
– Natalie Clare, writer and storyteller
"Anna Luepke's book is a breath of fresh air. Reading her stories broke my heart for what people have gone through, but I am so glad they have found St. Mary Development apartments."
"Thanks so much for ‘hope!’. I started reading it here at work and couldn’t put it down, and really enjoyed the compelling stories of the residents. Wow. You are a big part of something incredible!"
– A banking partner of St. Mary Development
"That's an amazing book. It really renewed my faith in our work and God's guidance in our ministries, even when day to day it's difficult to see."
– A healthcare partner of St. Mary Development
"Your book is excellent! What a great idea. I would like to share it with my staff. We often talk about the impact of our work, but as a capital provider, we rarely get to interact with the ultimate beneficiaries of our work. Your book tells a compelling story."