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Woman fights for living options for north Tulsa seniors

Elaine McDondle’s house has all the signs and smells of a typical home. But there are some details that aren't so typical, like a state license on the wall and a special proclamation. (KTUL)

Elaine McDondle’s house has all the signs and smells of a typical home. But there are some details that aren't so typical, like a state license on the wall and a special proclamation.

“As long as we can keep the lights on, get food for the to eat, if we can keep them full, clean, safe, and happy, I’ve done my job,” said McDondle.

For 15 years, McDondle has been using her home as a place for low income seniors to live. She said there aren’t many options for seniors living in north Tulsa who want to stay there. Her goal is to provide a home where they can stay in the area they've lived all their lives.

“They’re in a home where roaches are falling off the wall, they’re soaking wet with urine, you wonder, what’s going on in this world?” said McDondle.

McDondle has helped 70 seniors in the past 15 years.

“That’s how I end up taking care of the seniors with no money,” said McDondle. “I go into their homes and I see them and I say, oh we’ve got to do something. We bring them here.”

A residential care facility is a home where seniors can live and get the basic help they need. In Tulsa County, there are only nine residential care facilities like McDondle's, according to a report by INCOG. Medicaid can’t be used to pay for living in any one of the residential care facilities, so McDondle takes in any senior she can and has them pay what they can.

“Sometimes I walk this floor, I cry at night and I ask God what to do,” said McDondle.

McDondle isn’t just rescuing seniors, but homes too. She’s currently in the process of flipping an abandoned home down the block. She’s planning on using it as another place where seniors can stay.

“We need more people like her, more people who can inspire without trying,” said Isom Rogers. “Sometimes you do the right thing because it’s the only choice you have.”

Rogers is among a small group of volunteers who told McDondle they’d fix up the home for free.

“She said there was no one that was helping, this is what we do for a living, this is what we do every day, why not try?” said Rogers.

McDondle said she named her charity “Sarah’s Residential” after her mother. She said when she took care of her mom 15 years ago, she knew something needed to change.

Now, McDondle said her mom may have passed but her legacy lives on.

“I’ll be there until the end of their life,” said McDondle. “From the time they come through that door to the time they leave this earth, I’m there.”

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