Amid search for new owner, Friendship Village helps seniors displaced by July fire

The original version of this article incorrectly identified displaced Emerald Village resident Mary Becker.

Searching for new ownership while under bankruptcy protection, Friendship Village of Schaumburg has offered temporary housing to about a dozen residents displaced by the July 14 fire at the Emerald Village Senior Apartments in Schaumburg.

"This is a great way for us to fulfill our mission of caring for one another," Friendship Village Life Services Director Colleen Kowalewski said in a statement.

Those expected to find sanctuary at Friendship Village are among about 60 residents who remain displaced by the fire damage, Emerald Village Assistant Manager Jule LePine said.

All residents of the west side of the building at 150 W. Wise Road have returned and a few on the damaged east side are expected to in the coming days, she added.

But the time frame for restoration of the east-side units damaged by flames, smoke and water remains unclear.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined, Schaumburg officials said.

The immediate housing needs of residents have been addressed with Poplar Creek Village Senior Apartments in Hoffman Estates among other locations providing assistance, LePine said.

In Friendship Village, vacant apartments in proximity were sought for Emerald Village residents.

"We wanted to make sure that we gave them a sense of community," Kowalewski said.

Both managers and existing residents have shared in the experience of welcoming the newcomers.

"Every department has jumped in to coordinate our efforts: marketing, building, housekeeping, operations, case management," Kowalewski added. "We have a resident-run program for everyone new to the community. An ambassador is assigned to each new guest to make them feel at home, answer questions, tour the community, dine with them if they'd like, and provide ongoing support. They are providing this same service with the temporary guests."

Emerald Village resident Hermes Haller told Friendship Village representatives when the fire occurred she'd still been unpacking from her move three weeks before.

In the nearly two months since, she's lived in four hotels before learning of the opportunity at Friendship Village.

Haller said she already was familiar with the community's appearance and amenities from the mailings she'd received from it over the years.

"It's great to feel so welcome," she said. "I'm looking forward to getting involved with some of the activities."

Fellow Emerald Village resident Mary Becker agreed her arrival at Friendship Village was a welcome change from the weeks that followed the fire.

"We landed really softly here," she said. "Residents have taken us under their wings. Everyone is so nice. This is something wonderful that Friendship Village is doing."

Four Emerald Village residents, a firefighter and a police officer were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation after the fire, but there were no other injuries.

Several companies sent letters of intent this summer to bid on the purchase of Friendship Village of Schaumburg as part of the bankruptcy protection process for Illinois' largest retirement community.

Mark Zullo, vice president of sales and marketing at Friendship Senior Options, estimated at the time a new owner could be in place around the end of the year, based on other retirement community bankruptcies.

Meanwhile, residents' lives are continuing normally, spokeswoman Debra Sheridan said.

Current ownership blames the 46-year-old community's financial setbacks on its inability to conduct tours for prospective residents for nearly a year during the pandemic.

Most residents on the east side of the Emerald Village Senior Apartments on Wise Road in Schaumburg remain displaced by damage from a July 14 fire, but about a dozen of them have been offered temporary accommodations at Friendship Village of Schaumburg during the restoration process. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.