At the heart of a Landes Marian sanctuary, an intergenerational shared house

At the heart of a Landes Marian sanctuary, an intergenerational shared house

In the Landes, an old diocesan building welcomes tenants of all generations. A challenge made possible by an association financed thanks to generosity.

At the foot of the Notre-Dame de Buglose basilica (Landes), a warm light caresses the south terrace of the Saint-Jean house. Like a flock of sparrows, four children aged 3 to 8 descend on the table where puzzles and games have just been placed by their mother, Sophie Blandin. “You stay with Monique this afternoon, okay? » she says. Monique Leboeuf, 69, covers them with her blue gaze.

Arriving at the end of 2021 among the first tenants of this residence now shared by twenty-two residents of all ages, the former seamstress and carer says: “Here, it’s paradise. My son told me: “Before, when we went to see you, you had nothing to say. Now you are comfortable, happy. ”I love helping people and here, there is always a helping hand to lend! » Thus, Monique regularly takes Stéphanie’s dog out, a single mother constrained during the day by her work as a childminder. Monique also likes to be useful by redoing hems or making curtains for the “passing studio”, made available to families or friends visiting their loved ones in this unique place.

Bringing isolated people together

“We want to encourage fraternal times without it being a community life,” explains Sophie Blandin, founder of the project with her husband, Stanislas. We are not looking for residents but for caring neighbors who are attentive to others. » A mindset necessary to join this shared habitat, where applications are examined by a commission.

Henri, Mohamed, Christophe, Mauricette, Carmen… The household today has eight retirees, seven working people and seven children, aged between 8 months and 85 years old. Inspired by the encyclical Laudato si’ of Pope Francis and his approach to an integral ecology, the Blandin couple have for several years had the desire to create an intergenerational habitat in a green place. The goal: to welcome people made alone by the ups and downs of life and who no longer want to live in isolation.

During a decisive meeting in 2019 with a priest from the diocese of Aire and Dax, the Blandins learned that a former diocesan retirement home, located just five kilometers from the birthplace of Saint Vincent de Paul, was waiting of a new life. After having succeeded in bringing together several partners to create a real estate company (SCI, read box below), the place has been rehabilitated into shared housing.

Today, the large residence with cherry red shutters offers eighteen brand new apartments organized around a patio designed as a meeting place. Eight of them are social housing. Maison Saint-Jean has been recognized as “inclusive housing” and hires a part-time employee to support the most vulnerable people. A dedicated association, House of Life and Sharing Saint-Jean de Buglose, also collects donations and legacies to encourage a shared life between residents. Because this is not self-evident and requires concrete means to finance the maintenance of 200 m2 of common areas, equipment for the vegetable garden, the organization of festive moments, etc.

Find the right rhythm

“As an only child, I am learning to live in a group here. It’s very rewarding, rejoices Wilhem, 29, who works in a refrigerated vehicle factory. But, contrary to what some people think, living between different generations is not magical, it is constructed. » One of the difficulties is the differences in pace. How to meet when the working people come home from work while the older ones go to rest? “We are constantly looking for the right cursor,” explains Sophie Blandin. Recently, we introduced a shared meal on Thursday lunchtime. People who work on site or nearby bring their bowls, and retired residents who wish to join the table. »

The vegetable garden is also a meeting place between generations. Not without friction, sometimes. “We wanted to mulch the soil but Marie-Antoinette can’t stand the fact that the plantations aren’t “clean”,” smiles Stanislas. A compromise was finally found: inside the vegetable garden barriers, bare earth covers the seeds which will sprout this spring. On the outer edge, squash grow freely in the tall grass. A cohabitation that will bear fruit.

Recipes for success at Maison Saint-Jean

  • A driving torque. Through their project management skills and the time spent, Stanislas and Sophie Blandin, driven by their Christian faith, carried out this innovative idea.
  • A strong commitment. The diocese of Aire and Dax, the Foundation for Social Housing (FLS) and the Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul are active members of the SCI created to rehabilitate the house and manage the rental of the apartments. Furthermore, the Jean-et-Marie Foundation (housed by the FLS) supports this type of housing throughout France, and collects funds to liven up life between residents.
  • A spiritual environment. Established in a Marian sanctuary and located 5 km from the birthplace of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Saint-Jean house benefits from the spiritual and heritage influence of this great Landes saint.

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