Ladies and Gentlemen

Refer to “the ladies” and folks familiar with Catholic social ministry in Charleston will know you are talking about the 14 women who call Carter-May home.

Ranging in age from 63 to 97, the Carter-May ladies are pleased to see the construction project actually taking shape.

“I think it’s great,” exclaimed Ida Mae Nickerson, who believes the best part will be the new bathrooms. The facility currently has a group bathroom that can be difficult for an 80-something woman.

Alene Canaday, who came to Carter-May in 2001, lights up when you ask her about the construction. Every day on her way to meals she pulls back the curtain and peeks out to see the progress.

“Oh, it is my favorite time of day when I get to check it,” she said. “They wave at me when they see me there.”

Fearful that she might get hurt if she stepped out to take a look, the construction crew replaced the solid side door with one that has a window from which Alene and other residents can safely monitor the progress. Her assessment? “I think they are doing a good job.” Alene would know. Her husband was a carpenter and worked in construction.

The consensus among the residents is that it will all be worth it in the end. No one even mentioned the day the water main broke. The noise doesn’t seem to bother anyone, though all are eager to “get their porch back.”

“I think about that front porch,” says Nora Swindall, who figures they are saving the best for last — the new screened porch that will replace the side porch, now the site of the new kitchen.

When asked about the prospect of a new kitchen, Victoria Judge, Carter-May cook, said, “I can’t wait. It is way past due, but I just thank God they are doing it. I love my job, and I love my work.”

The new equipment will be a big improvement. Apparently the old stove can be a bit of a challenge. Victoria is eager to cook for the priests who will be moving into the St. Joseph Residence, and she wonders if they will have tastes similar to those of the ladies. After all, she has a wonderful reputation for good home cooking to consider. Just ask the ladies. And the inconvenience? Victoria says, “If the ladies can cope, I can cope.”

The St. Joseph Residence and Carter-May Home project presents some unusual challenges for a construction crew. They are working on a big job, on a site with lots of large old oak trees to maneuver around, and they have to do it all while considering the safety and comfort of the ladies and ensuring the uninterrupted operation of the home.

So far Tommy Chinners, project supervisor, and Hightower Construction have been up to the task. Tommy advised his contractors at the preconstruction meeting, “Guys, we have 14 elderly ladies who live here, and we are working for the Catholic Church. Make sure we act like gentlemen.”

So far so good, gentlemen.

They have had some help from the ladies as well. Last week Alene prayed that the rain would hold off so crews could finish pouring the foundation of the second wing. It worked.

Janine Bauder, administrator of the home for the past nine years, is a big part of what makes Carter-May the special place it is. She knows firsthand how long it has taken to make this dream a reality.

“I didn’t really believe it until I saw them pouring the cement. I think I was as excited as the ladies,” said Janine. She is already getting calls from around the diocese asking for information and floor plans for the new east wing from folks interested in the only Catholic residential care facility in South Carolina.

We still need your help and support to fund this important project. If you want to keep up with the progress of the St. Joseph Residence and Carter-May Home, check our Web site at We are always adding new pictures and we are always accepting donations. For more information about the Carter-May Home, contact Janine Bauder at (843) 556-8314. To make a donation, see the pledge card on this page.

Dorothy Grillo is director of the Social Ministry and Catholic Charities offices for the Diocese of Charleston.