In Vermont, there are few issues bigger than the challenge in finding affordable housing, especially for seniors. For Kim Fitzgerald, helping older Vermonters is a part of who she is.
For her, it’s personal. “I felt like I had a calling for working with older people,” Kim says.
Kim is the CEO of Cathedral Square, a nonprofit organization helping those 55 and older into affordable housing. But it’s not just housing; Kim calls it home for them.
“I think that’s because when I was born, I had only one living grandparent, and she passed away when I was 11. She was a teacher, that’s why I aspired to be one. Then both my parents passed before they were 70, and even my mother-in-law passed right after retirement, so I learned at a pretty young age that you have to make the best out of every moment,” Kim notes.
Kim moved to Colchester, Vermont when she was 7 years old. Before landing at Cathedral Square, she explored other career paths. She worked in accounting and got a teaching certification from the University of Vermont.
Her professional career brought her to the Vermont Housing finance Agency. “As a part of that work, I went around the state of Vermont inspecting housing. As you can imagine I saw some of the worst properties, but also some of the best, and Cathedral Square definitely had some of the best housing,” she says.
Kim is in her 24th year working at Cathedral Square; the organization has been around for 45 years.
“I just saw that there’s a lot of folks who just don’t want to live in their homes any longer, and really don’t want to have to deal with the maintenance and the upkeep and the snow removal,” Kim explains. “They want a beautiful home to live in, but they just don’t want to have to deal with all of those pieces.”
Kim says she’s honored to have been chosen as the CEO after a national search. But before that position, she was a property manager, working face-to-face. “I loved it, I loved every minute of it. I loved the residents; I enjoyed working with them,” says Kim.
Kim is passionate about making living easier for the older community, and those with disabilities and special needs.
“I would really like to celebrate caregivers, it’s a job that’s backbreaking, it’s a difficult job but it’s so necessary,” Kim notes. “I’d like for people just to think more about older adult issues. I think that every stage of life is critically important, we’re all aging,” she says.
Kim was awarded a special recognition for her work; “I’ve received the lifetime achievement award from the Vermont Housing Managers Association, which I’m also really proud of.”
Kim now sits on the Disabilities, Aging, and Independant Living Advisory Board, appointed by Governor Phil Scott.
Kim’s passion drives the work she does.