Hazel Cusma, 92, is the only original tenant that still lives in the Portage Lakes Kiwanis Towers complex. She was among 42 residents that had apartments in the complex when it opened.
Community members celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Portage Lakes Kiwanis Tower with an open house Sept. 18.
The facility opened in 1983 as a complex for seniors in the Portage Lakes area to offer affordable housing at 399 Portage Lakes Drive.
Hazel Cusma, 92, is the only original tenant that still lives in the apartment complex. She was among 42 residents that had apartments in the complex when it opened.
“I moved in when I was 62 and I am now 92,” Cusma said. “I’ve loved it here all these years and it is a lot of fun.”
Being one of the first to view the building when it opened, she had her pick of apartments.
“As I turned the corner I noticed the laundry facility room and the apartment right across the hall,” Cusma said. “(I) said, ‘This is the apartment I want.’”
That space soon felt like home.
Today, Cusma has a gallery of family photos of her children and grandchildren on display in her cozy, well-kept apartment.
Cusma remembered many fun activities at the Kiwanis Tower through the years and recalled one Christmas season when she and two other ladies were attempting to pull apart the branches on a Christmas tree to be used in the social hall. They were experiencing difficulty keeping their hands protected from the tree needles. Cusma said, “Wait a minute, I’ll be right back.” She returned with three pairs of gloves for all and the ladies who laughingly admitted that she had made their day.
Cusma also loved to bake and was known for her date nut bars. She always kept a supply in the freezer ready to bake and serve to whoever might stop in. One day, while a new refrigerator was being installed, she began to unload the old refrigerator/freezer and one of the workers noticed her large supply of frozen cookie logs.
“ I keep them on hand to slice and bake for drop in company,” she told the worker before adding, “I’ll tell you what, while you’re installing the refrigerator, I’ll bake some up for you to take.”
Moments like those are what made the apartment feel like home for so many years.
And it’s moments like those that will continue to make the little apartment feel like home for years to come