New resident finds just-completed Applegate Landing a ‘godsend’

By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Local
When 9/11 occurred, 20 years ago, Shirley Singh made a decision: She was going to serve in the military.
“I had thought a lot about it, but never really made plans for it until Sept. 11,” said Singh, now 36. “When Sept. 11 happened, that was kind of my deciding factor of ‘I’m going to do this.’”
She signed up following her junior year at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Wash.
Singh said she was adopted and that her adopted father had served in the Army before she joined the family, but she hadn’t felt strongly drawn to military service until the 9/11 attacks.
“I joined as soon as I was allowed. I had to have my parents’ permission to be able to join because I was only 17.
“I did my basic between my junior and senior years and I did Reserves throughout my senior year and once I was done with high school, I did my AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and got my jobs modifier.”
She ended up serving as a nutrition care specialist and also worked in food service, she said.
Singh served nearly five years in the Army, mostly in Germany – Wurtsberg, until it closed, then at the Miesau Army Depot in Kaiserslautern, Germany, the last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit, which was converted to a combat support hospital while she was there.
“I was part of the very last MASH, before they changed it to a CSH unit,” Singh said. “When they changed to a CSH unit, they had too many people in my job, so they transferred me to Landstuhl.”
Landstuhl Medical Center was where she finished her Army service in 2007.
“I married another service member and I got out because I wanted to have a family,” Singh said. “I did not want to have both of us in the military and have both of us ultimately get deployed. Because it does happen.”
She and her then-husband returned to the states after getting discharged and she returned to school, getting a culinary arts degree from Cordon Bleu and working as a pastry chef.
“I’ve stayed in the food industry,” she said. “I’ve worked in bakeries. I’ve worked in nursing homes.”
She moved to Lebanon several years ago after she participated in the Tortuga Pirate Festival at Cheadle Lake Park.
“The pirate community is the best,” she said, noting that she’s participated in pirate re-enactments for about 10 years.
But this year Singh, now a single mother on VA disability compensation with her two children, ages 12 and 13, were living in an apartment, scarcely able to afford the rising rent. A friend told her about the Applegate Landing veterans housing apartments being constructed on Stoltz Hill Road, across from Grampa’s Grocery market.
“A friend of mine had seen a news article for this last year, when they were saying that they were going to build it,” she said of the Applegate complex. “And so I just kind of kept my eyes open for when they were going to start accepting applications where it was going to be built, when it was going to be open. And as soon as the waiting list became available, I got on the waiting list to apply for it.”
Her strategy paid off.

SHIRLEY SINGH laughs as she talks about her plans for raised garden beds at Applegate Landing apartments. She says she’d like to teach cooking to other residents, using food grown in the gardens.

Compared to the nearly $1,000 per month she was paying previously for a small three-bedroom apartment, rent for the Applegate apartments is income-based. And, Singh said, there’s a lot more than just reduced rent.
“It’s a godsend,” she said. “It really is a blessing to be able to be here. It’s gonna be the first year that I can recall that I can actually celebrate Christmas without asking the community for help to get Christmas dinner. So I’m really excited for that.
“ And it’s not just a house; it’s a community. It feels like a home not just like moving into an apartment complex. All of us have something in common that I’ve noticed, whether it being bed-ridden or just, just a need.
The complex offers studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments designed for veterans and families alike. It also includes a community room, an on-site gym, a playground, a game room and on-site laundry facilities.
Crossroads Communities, a Lebanon-based nonprofit that aims to provide stabilization, supportive housing, life skills education and job training to the homeless and others who need “a second chance,” has located its office on the premises.
“If anybody needs anything, you know, if they’re running on food, they’ve got food boxes here all the time so that if somebody needs to come get food, all they’ve got to do is come to the office and get food boxes,” Singh said, adding that residents can also get hooked up with other resources they might need.
She’s clearly enthusiastic about the future.
“We’ve got raised flowerbeds in a community garden area,” Singh said, noting that she could teach fellow residents how to cook what they grow.
“They’re talking about bringing students in from local colleges that are specializing in physical therapy to help with, like, the gym, and then they’re wanting to do community days where we get together and do like, you know, like, where I would help teach how to decorate cakes and stuff like that.”
Eventually, she said, she’d like to open a bakery built to allow wheelchair users to work in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, though, she’s just trying to get unpacked.
“It’s really, it’s really something,” Singh said, looking around the complex. “It’s just, it’s overwhelming. The sense of community that this apartment complex has that these guys have put together for us that live here. It’s astounding. It’s it’s absolutely amazing.
“It’s the first year that I’ll ever be able to afford to take care of Christmas. Without help.”