"Center for AIDS Opening," Gaston Gazette (1/1990)

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"Center for AIDS Opening," Gaston Gazette (1/1990)


Bo Peterson




Article describing creation and construction of the House of Mercy


Gaston Gazette



House of Mercy Archive: Binder 1 (1990-1999)


Center for AIDS opening
Sisters to help homeless victims

By Bo Petersen Gazette
Staff Reporter

BELMONT - A home for the homeless with AIDS is scheduled to open in February.

The House of Mercy, a six-bed family care center, is under construction in
Belmont by the Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic nuns whose motherhouse adjoins the old Sacred Heart College campus.

The center will provide a place to stay and home health care for people with AIDS who "don't have any alternative except the hospital or the streets," said Sister Mary Margaret Wright.

Sister Mary is supervising the project. Although she could not estimate how many homeless with AIDS would need the housing, she said agencies already are asking about its opening.

"The need is very acute at this point and getting worse," said John Conley, Metrolina AIDS Project director. "There's nothing like it in this area."

More than 100 people in Gaston County have tested positive for the virus which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Nearly half were diagnosed in 1990.

Health officials say as many as five times that number could have the virus. AIDS is fatal and there is no known cure. Already 23 people in the county have been diagnosed with AIDS.

The cost of AIDS can be anywhere from $30,000 to $150,000 per person.

The order has raised most of $280,000 in construction costs for the home but expects $166,000 per year in operating costs. The construction costs stem partly from requirements to be licensed by the state as a family care home.

The license will make the home eligible for Medicaid money. For clients not eligible for Medicaid, “if they can afford it they can pay it," Sister Mary said. "If not, it'll be absorbed somewhere.

“The Sisters of Mercy historically Have taken leaps of faith, and that's why we have hospitals and educational centers," she said. "I think in the 1990s ; this is the leap we need to take."

"We want to keep it as homelike as possible," Sister Mary said. "We don't want an institution."

But more homes could be built in the : future, she said. : The sisters asked not to identify the home's location.

"It really goes against us to get this kind of publicity at the expense of something as devastating as this," said Sister Pauline Clifford, the superior general.

The home, she said, "is part of our mission." Among contributors to the home are:

• The Sisters of Mercy, $100,000 toward construction costs.

• The Diocese of Charlotte, $100,000 toward construction costs.

• Mercy Hospital, $90,000 over three years.

• St. Joseph's Hospital, medical equipment and supplies.

• The Glenn Foundation, $15,000.

• The Community Foundation, $10,000

Sister Mary will take over the operation with other sisters volunteering. A live-in professional will be hired "to administer, coordinate, cook and clean," she said.

Brought into the project for her financing experience, Sister Mary found "my heart and head met," she said.

"Meeting people with AIDS, working with them, I feel this is where I'm supposed to be," she said. "I happen to feel we all have a right to live and die with dignity."

WANT TO HELP?: Contact The House of Mercy, in care of the Sisters of Mercy, Sacred Heart Convent, Belmont, N.C. 28012.

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