When a stray cat appeared at the Widows Home of Dayton, the residents voted to take it in and give it a home. They named the feline, Willow, and appointed a Kitty Committee to care for her needs.
Food and water dishes, a litter box, and a bed were kept in resident Joyce Hammond’s room, but Willow belongs to everyone.
“It is like a Cinderella story,” said Hammond. “She lived on the streets and then we took her inside and she has the run of the house. It’s like living in a castle.”
This cat rescue story is not surprising. The Widows Home has a long history of caring and providing a home for those who need it.
“We are driven by our mission to provide services for the Dayton community,” said Kristi Dixon, Executive Director of the Widows Home. “Our residents and staff become as close as family.”
And like family, they miss their own when they’re gone. Joyce Hammond recently died, with Willow by her side.
It all began over 140 years ago. The Widows Home’s long history is shown by the following timeline:
1844: Dayton Female Association (DFA) opened a brick house on Magnolia Street for orphans.
1858: Nancy Trotter Bates moved to Dayton and became president of DFA.
1866: Orphan care was assumed by the county and the brick house stood empty.
1870: DFA became Women’s Christian Association. The group saw the need for housing for Civil War widows.
1870: Mrs. Bates died; her daughter, Susan Winters became president.
1872-76: Widows Home opened in the Magnolia Street house for any widow or destitute woman.
1883: New three story brick Victorian style house built at 50 South Findlay Street. Land was donated by William P. Huffman.
1872: Portrait and marble tablet given in memory of Mrs. Bates.
1951: addition added to building/ 2 upper floors closed; another addition added in 1957.
1972: Victorian building razed, another addition added.
1976:Licensed with Ohio Department of Health as a Home for the Aging/a non-profit, philanthropic health care facility.
1998: Added another wing
1998:Widows Home Foundation formed.
1999: Medicare/Medicaid certified and licensed as a skilled nursing facility.
2000: Men became residents for the first time.
2008: Rapid Rehab wing admitted first patients.
The modern Widows Home facility is a rambling one story brick building with traces of it historic past. The marble plaque in the entrance, the portrait of Mrs. Bates in the anteroom, an antique filled parlor, a front porch and the wrought iron fence across the front of the property all give a historic homey feel to the structure.
There are a total of 75 beds, including 50 for long term residents and 25 for patients needing rehabilitation.
“Over 90 percent of the patients who come to Widows Home are able to go back home after rehabilitation,” Dixon said. “Many of these patients return if they need rehabilitation again.”