Audrey DeForge Honored at Holy Cross Senior Housing

Patience, passion and persistence comprise Audrey DeForge’s recipe for getting thingsdone. Audrey knows something about recipes, as she and her husband ran The Sombrero Restaurant in Colchester for 17 years, where she also got to know a lot of people. By osmosis, she also has a working knowledge of property development and management, her husband’s line of work after they sold the restaurant business in the mid-60’s. And she is fully invested in the history and lore of Colchester, having spent 83 of her 90 years as a full-time resident and part-time activist.

Audrey parlayed who-you-know, what-you-know, optimism, and perseverance, plus a concern for the town’s aging population, into a successful push for Colchester’s first senior community. Holy Cross Senior Housing (HCSH), a non-denominational community, opened for occupancy in 1997 on eight acres of land behind Holy Cross Catholic Church leased for 99 years at no cost to the project by the Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Audrey and the other members of her steadfast ad hoc committee, including Father Roger Charbonneau, whose support got the Diocese involved, and town businessmen Dick Mazza, Ed Fitzpatrick, David Coates, and Marc Landry, eventually transitioned into HCSH’s board of directors. She served on that board until 2009, then daughter Patricia DeForge King, the eldest of her six children was elected to take her place. Cathedral Square Corporation and Housing Vermont helped this Board develop the community, and Cathedral Square provides on-going management and resident support.

For galvanizing support and collaboration essential to the project’s long-term success, Audrey was lauded on June 15th by HCSH residents, colleagues, and Cathedral Square Corporation (CSC) staff with a gala reception in the community room now named in her honor on a cross-beam. Hosting the event, Amy Wright, Director of Development for Cathedral Square, cited Audrey’s uncanny ability to inspire and motivate. “Her positive spirit and ‘can do’ attitude made the project a joy for everyone involved. She brings you into the fold of good will.” Mazza was just as fervent in his praise: “It was her drive and input that got me and kept me involved. When you called, Audrey, I listened. The town owes you a huge debt of gratitude for your leadership in seeing the project to completion, then going on to serve for so many years on its board.” Mazza currently serves as board president. Landry sung Audrey’s praises further: “You were both coach and conscience to all of us involved in the Holy Cross project.”

Of her committee’s role in the development of HCSH, Audrey is particularly proud that “we did our homework so thoroughly. We toured every one of the senior housing communities in the area to determine the best features and amenities to include in the Holy Cross project. I am so grateful that Cathedral Square is committed to seniors and their housing needs. We need to always look to the future and try to do more.” Of her individual role, Audrey is self-effacing and a little tongue-in-cheek. “I think my age played a big part. All the other committee members were younger. I think they deferred to my wisdom and their respect for their elders. After all, we were talking about housing for seniors.” Oh, and by the way, she adds, “if anyone has additional land to donate, five acres would be enough for another senior housing development.”

Cathedral Square Corporation is an award-winning developer, owner and manager of 24 affordable housing communities for older Vermonters and individuals with disabilities. For more information about Cathedral Square visit us at www.cathedralsquare.org.