Originally, the Schneider Manor Board of Directors had planned a cook-out and bingo game to mark the 50th anniversary of residents moving into the senior housing community. However, as has happened to many events in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic meant a change of plans.
Instead of a community picnic, residents were invited to enjoy a “Picnic on Your Patio” this past Saturday. Members of the Board of Directors distributed bags filled with a lunch catered by Miss P’s Catering along with other goodies. Then, residents could enjoy the lunch on their own or, as some preferred, gather with friends for a socially distanced meal on the lawn.
While it was unfortunate the picnic couldn’t happen as originally envisioned, Schneider Manor didn’t want to let its 50th anniversary pass without some type of celebration. After all, the senior housing facility is one-of-a-kind and one of Lowell’s storied institutions.
Brainchild of Lowell Businessman
Schneider Manor can trace its roots back to 1966 when local businessman C.H. Runciman brought together representatives of various organizations to discuss the issue of housing in Lowell. He hoped to develop housing in the area to meet the needs of senior and low-income residents.
The idea was received favorably and a non-profit, Lowell Area Housing, was incorporated in that year. The initial board of directors included many of the most prominent local residents of the day. The board included Charles Davis, Ray Rittenger, King Doyle, Wesley Roth, Phil Schneider, Dr. Donald Gerard and Norton Avery in addition to Runciman.
The first Schneider Manor buildings were completed in 1970 with an additional building completed every 3-5 years thereafter. Currently, the community has 12 buildings, 92 apartments and 117 residents. All units are designed for independent living, and as it has been the case since its founding, the manor is overseen by a volunteer board of directors.
50 Years of Affordable Senior Housing in Lowell
Part of what makes Schneider Manor so special is the Schneider Trust Fund. Created through the generous gift of Philip and Jennie Winegar Schneider, the fund is not legally connected to Lowell Area Housing but works in concert with the non-profit.
“Our rent is very low to begin with,” says Jody Haybarker, manager of Schneider Manor. However, if someone is having trouble making their payment, assistance can be sought through the trust fund.
Only Lowell area residents are eligible to live at Schneider Manor and the waiting list for an apartment is long. Haybarker estimates it’s about a 10 year wait at this point. While people can submit an application at any time, residents must be at least 62 years of age when they move in.
“I’m not sure there is any place like it,” Haybarker says. Comfortable apartments, low rent and easy access to community events are all part of its appeal. In addition to having its own activity room, Schneider Manor is next door to Senior Neighbors on S. Hudson Street which, in pre-pandemic times, provided activities for seniors on a nearly daily basis.
Throughout the years, Schneider Manor has received a number of generous financial gifts from former residents and that money has helped update facilities and add on new buildings. Haybarker says it is hoped another building can be constructed in the next 3-5 years to accommodate more residents.
For now, those who live at Schneider Manor are undoubtedly grateful for the foresight of C.H. Runciman to set into motion that wheels that would create their current home. This past Saturday, the volunteers who make up the Board of Directors fanned out across the property, knocking on doors and handing out lunches. They too can feel pride for playing a part in maintaining a senior community that is unlike almost any other.