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Crosby puts faith in Holly Place

February 10, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like ...

Helen Crosby



Age: 80

Hometown: Raised on a farm in Sparks, Md.

Where would you see Crosby? Crosby was asked to be the Washington County Council of Churches representative on Holly Place's Board of Directors when the facility opened in 1988. She has served continuously since then and remembers helping make the decision to hire Melanie Davis, "a great administrator".

"We decided there was a need for the indigent elderly who couldn't care for themselves at home," said Crosby, who serves as treasurer of the board.

The board bought a private residence at 268 S. Potomac St., gutted it and turned it into a nonprofit assisted-living facility with private rooms and shared bathrooms for 15 residents. The waiting list to get in was so long that in 1991, a second building in the same block was purchased, with room for 15 more residents.

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Crosby said there were no other options in the county for seniors with no savings and who, at most, only received Social Security. All residents qualified for state subsidies, which was crucial for the financial health of Holly Place.

Some legal changes under the administration of Gov. Robert Ehrlich negatively impacted Holly Place, and the board has been struggling to keep their doors open. Crosby said if Holly Place were to close, it would cost the state twice the amount to cover nursing-home expenses for the residents.

"This is home for them," Crosby said of Holly Place residents. "It's probably more like a home than any other place. A lot of them don't have anybody. They've made the staff their family."

Crosby, who has an identical twin sister, a set of twin brothers and two other siblings, is a firm believer in the power of prayer. Last year, she was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Right before she was to receive a stem-cell transplant, a test came back negative for cancer - she believes God answered her prayers.

That faith applies to Holly Place, too.

"We're still open today because I believe God really wants to have this facility stay open," Crosby said. "He's helped us this far, and with God's blessing, we'll be able to keep these people here. We need more than prayers, we need money ... If everybody would give a little bit, we could do quite well."

Hobbies: Crosby, who lives in Halfway, loves to read. She belongs to a card group and a dominoes group. An active member in her church, First Christian Church, Crosby belongs to a shepherd group, attends Sunday School and used to sing with the choir.

Crosby believes an active lifestyle is the key to long life, and volunteers at Washington County Hospital and as a reading tutor at Lincolnshire Elementary School. She also likes to walk with a friend as often as she can, which she wishes was every day.

What does Crosby like best about Washington County? Crosby, who has two children and five grandchildren, moved here from Annapolis in 1963 with her husband, James Oregon Crosby. Orey, as he was known, was a dental technician and went into partnership with two other men.

Helen Crosby worked as a secretary at Walter Reed Army Hospital as the executive director's administrative assistant at Western Maryland Hospital Center and at Garlock before retiring at age 62.

"This is home. I've been here too long to think of any place else," Crosby said. "When we came here, it was a whole new life."

She said she and her husband used to go to the theater, to concerts and plays, and golfed, danced and attended church together.

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