National Health Week, which runs from April 2-8, focuses on the Power of Home. The Richmond City Health District has partnered with a variety of organizations across Richmond to fight the false narratives that surround our fellow residents living in low-resource communities. Grid, along with other local publications, are featuring a series of letters from residents in Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority communities. The following is from Nancy Ward, 74, a resident of Creighton Court and member of the Creighton Court Tenant Council.
I’ve lived in Creighton Court for 45 years. I was 23 when I came here, and I’m 74 now – I left for a few years once my kids were grown, but then I came back. Soon, I’ll be moving out for good. Creighton will be gone and we’ll all have to move. I started meeting with a Transition Coach last year, Ms. Patterson, and I like her a lot. I like having someone I can talk to about what’s going to happen. I’ll go to a building that is just for seniors, but they haven’t told us yet when we’re leaving.
The first time I came to Creighton back in the 60s, I was staying with my four kids at my parents’ house. When I moved out here, it was fine. A lot people were working out here. You went to work, you came home, and you didn’t have the problems we have now. Everybody looked out for everybody. Even the kids. Things changed when younger children started having children, but when I came here, it was nice.
I think more of the families out here could use one on one support. They need someone to listen to what’s really happening, and bring attention to what could be different. For things to get better out here, we need participation from the younger parents. We went to PTA meetings when my kids were small. Kids had programs with the Police Academy after school, and the police would drive kids home after. I had my kids in football, basketball, and tennis. I worked at Carolina Barbecue as a cook for years, and I volunteered for 30 years at Woodville Elementary off and on, all through the time my kids and grandkids were there. You have to do for yourself. I can’t depend on people to do for mine.
I used to laugh all the time. People would get upset when they have been selected to move to Creighton and say – they gave me Creighton! I’d say, “Sweetheart, let me tell you how it works. When they knock at your door, you don’t have no butter. You don’t have no sugar. You don’t have no coffee. You don’t have no problems. They’re going to talk about you if you do give it to them, and talk about you if you don’t.” I share with the people who mean something to me, and I don’t bother with anyone else.
But to be honest with you, I do get a lot of respect out here. If I’m walking up the street and anybody cusses or says something bad, one of the boys says, “Don’t you see Miss Nancy?” And the other one says, “Oh, Miss Nancy, I’m so sorry.” I might not like what I see all the time, but they do respect me.
I have three children living, and 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. I watch my grandbabies during the day. One of my sons lives in Georgia but my daughter works at MCV and my son works at John Marshall, so I see my family a lot. I enjoy helping in any way I can. When I’m called on, if I’m not watching my great-grandbabies, I help.
People out here have helped me, too. Five years ago, I had both my breasts taken off, and the women of the Tenant Council were really good, coming to see me, asking if I needed anything, and other people out here, too. We care about each other. A lot of my friends in Creighton will go to the senior building too. Even some people who have left Creighton and moved other places want to come back when the new building is up.
I tell a lot of people out here – you’re the one who decides how you live. When we get to the new building, I’ll find my place just like I have here. It will be different, but I’m working with Ms. Patterson, and I’ll be ready when it’s time to leave for good.
Photo by Cheyenne Varner