KULPMONT - The sense of sadness among the staff and remaining residents was palpable at Ann-Joachim House personal care home on Friday.

They put on their bravest faces for a group picture, but as they dispersed, administrator Agnes Delaney hugged and consoled resident Elizabeth Toter while she wiped away a tear from her eye. Toter was said to have been in her room crying most of the day.

After 26 years, the facility at 840 Scott St., across from Holy Angels Church, will shut its doors for good on Feb. 17.

"It has been very emotional these past couple of days," Delaney said. "But due to economic reasons and escalating state regulations, we don't have a choice."

While discussing the closing Friday afternoon, she took a call and confirmed the bad news for yet another person.

Established by reverend

Ann-Joachim House was established in 1986 by the Rev. Paul Shuda, former longtime pastor of St. Mary's Church - now Holy Angels. He now is retired and resides in Harrisburg. The building itself is owned by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

The unique name was taken from the names of Jesus' grandparents, St. Ann and St. Joachim, parents of Mary, as a reflection of the elderly clientele it served.

Delaney was set to close the home Thursday, but is now staying open a few extra weeks while she and her staff find other personal care homes for the remaining four residents. Delaney extends a thank you to staff at the Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging for their ongoing assistance.

After the closure, the furnishings will be sold. A date for that sale has not yet been set.

There since the start

Until the closure became imminent, the facility was home to 12 residents and had a capacity of 17. Residents received three home-cooked meals and snacks and enjoyed activities daily.

The facility employes 10 people, including Delaney, who has been at the facility since its inception and served as its administrator for the past 17 years.

"I inherited the job (as administrator); I didn't asked for it," she joked. "But I loved and enjoyed it." She said she loved the residents and praised her "very compassionate and loving" staff.

"Closing is the most difficult thing I ever had to do," she said.