Respite House Renovations Photo Album

Respite House Renovation – Bathroom

Brand new bathroom redesigned seems like it is twice the size. The roll-in zero entry Respite House - new showershower is amazing. Beautiful porcelain tile on the floor and the wall make this a very functional bathroom for both the child and the care giver.  This was one of the major efforts, and frankly a capstone change, for this renovation project. The diligent efforts and calm demeanor of the HMCO, LLC team members did not go un-noticed.

Respite House Renovation - bathroom

The soothing wall color and easy access and impressive new bathroom inspired the creation of a small group of supporters who have dubbed themselves the Ladies of the Sheets.

Respite House Renovation, monogrammed towels.These ladies are committed to supplying the Respite House with bed linens and bath towels. Their first project was the crisp white towels, lovingly monogrammed by Ladies of the Sheets leader Jane Beaudoin.

Respite House Renovation Outside

 Another big impact was refurbishing the handicap ramp and replacing the crumbling Respite House Renovation front porchfront porch steps. We have Bonnie Jordan and Stan Kranz and some of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity boys to thank for taking on not only scraping, sanding and painting but also swing sledge hammers to demolition the steps. We can hardly wait for the fresh new wood porch and steps to season so we can add a coat of paint.  And, while we had the paint can open we tasked one of the fraternity brothers to weed the handicap accessible garden and give it a fresh coat of paint. Respite House Renovation gardenMary Donovan, Katie Donovan’s mother added some cash to the project to cover the cost of some seasonal decor and plants. In addition to this outdoor work, the whole house was power-washed, the garage was clean and cleared and two coats of paint covered a peeling exterior wall.  Our exterior doors have been painted a beautiful red, and there is a new non-stick surface on the handicap ramp.

Respite House Renovations – Appliances and Basement

There is a huge impact in the kitchen which has a new floor, fresh paint, needed cabinet repair and a new refrigerator, new cooktop, new microwave, and new oven. Bob Conway handled the old floor tear-up and the installation of these appliances. Respite House Renovations new appliancesAdditionally, down in the basement the dying washer and dryer were dragged out by some of our muscle from Pi Kappa Phi, walls were painted with waterproof paint and the floor has a fresh coat of paint. (Kudos to Antonio Todd, John Stauffer and Max and Blake Sandborn).

Respite House Renovation washer and dryerThe basement now has a brand new washer and dryer and a storage freezer for the opportunity to stock up and food items and treats when they are on sale.  If we haven’t mentioned your name, it does not mean that we aren’t grateful —we are eternally grateful and want to schedule a walk-through reception for all our helpers and donors in the near future.  We still have some finishing touches and will be communicating about how we want to proceed.

At Helping Hands Respite Care we are so grateful to McLaren Greater Lansing for helping us get to our $16,000 fund-raising goal. By our calculation these funds leveraged over $40,000 in value. Watch for another post where we will ackowledge our helpful vendors.



Milestones for In-Home Supervisor

Child In-Home Supervisor Tarra Boris marking new milestones.

Tarra Boris our in -home children’s program supervisor is marking some new milestones. She recently graduated from Michigan State University. Over the past year and a half Tarra has divided her time at Helping Hands in service to the organization and in pursuit of her Masters of Social Work via an internship “I am still in process towards earning the distinction of having the MSW letters added to my title,” shared Boris. “Hopefully, I will be able to work in the necessary hours and the exam in the near future.”

Facing another life milestone,Tarra is expecting the pending arrival of her baby and is busy preparing a transition team (Dawn Todd and Leah Gavin) to carry on her work during her maternity leave. Tarra shared that her baby is a girl and will be named Arabella.

Tarra is also working on a Play Therapy Certification which she expects will be very useful in her work with families with children, in-home care, participants in the Breaking Barriers Today program, and of course the Respite House.

When asked what we would need to fully outfit the Respite House with toys, tools, or materials with state of the art resources for children attending the program, she was quick to list the following: more sifting toys, a wide range of sensory input toys, weighted blankets and vests, swings, bean bag chairs, and colorful art or murals. “There are some really great advances being made in research on play therapy designed to de-escalate behaviors, especially with those children on the autism spectrum. It would be wonderful to have more of the tools and resources appropriate for occupational or play therapy at the Respite House.”

Volunteer of the Year Award Shared

Volunteer of the Year Award Shared by Katie Donovan and Vicki Rakowski.

At a recent special gathering of the Helping Hands Board of Directors two special people were invited to attend. This is the meeting in which the Board of Directors announces and honors the Volunteer of the Year shared by two individuals this year. The two people were selected because together their efforts have had a significant impact on our organization. Vicki Rakowski our volunteer Volunteer Coordinator and Katie Donovan our Marketing and Fund Development Consultant.

Executive Director John Stauffer presented his comments and acknowledgement on behalf of the staff and Board of Directors:

Vicki Rakowski

There is not a single word that describes Vicki Rakowski. She is a very complex individual who lives life to the fullest. Vicki is a retired nurse, but this does not stop her from lending a hand wherever she can. She is energetic, knowledgeable, driven, compassionate, motivating, a great friend, a motivator, and an all-around class act. Vicki is known to bring a high level of energy to anything she takes on. When there is a need, Vicki is there to tackle the problem. Helping Hands has been fortunate to have Vicki help create a volunteer handbook/manual, as well as forms required to bring volunteers on board. This process has improved the volunteer program by creating efficient processes for finding, recruiting, retaining volunteers, and making them feel like part of our family here at Helping Hands Respite Care. Her presence, opinions, and skills, are greatly valued.
“I am so honored to be recognized like this – truly I am the one that is on the receiving end of this relationship,” shared Rakowski.

Katie Donovan

Katie has worked with Helping Hands for approximately three years in both consulting and volunteer roles. She has always been committed to the agency and its mission. Katie is responsible for guiding the process for creating the current name and brand identity for Helping Hands Respite Care. In addition to being a wonderful marketing consultant, Katie has implemented our sustainable fund raising model. She has become the voice and creator behind the technology and communication aspects related to our excellent electronic newsletter, website, and Facebook page. Katie also single handedly created Kate’s Memory Café, which takes place on the second Sunday of every month at the Adult Day Services program building. She volunteers to facilitate the monthly event and create the agenda for the Memory Café. Katie recently took on the project of soliciting and coordinating volunteers for our Respite House renovation, donating over 50 hours of time over and above her consulting responsibilities. Katie has generated more funds, members, and support from the community all because of her belief in Helping Hands Respite Care.
“Choosing to create and facilitate the Memory Café has been a very personal labor of love. I do it to honor my mother and my father. Mom was the caregiver for Dad as he fought the losses and diminishing awareness that the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s brought on our family,” commented Donovan.

Driving and Dementia

Senior man behind the wheel. We explore driving and dementia

Learn about driving and dementia in the helpful article:

Living with Dementia: When Does Driving Become Unsafe?

By Ava M. Stinnett

A friend or loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Among the many concerns for caregivers and family members is determining when it’s no longer safe for the individual to drive. There are various signs to look for when assessing whether it’s time to give up the car keys; however, something just as important as safety is what the loss of autonomy will mean to your friend or loved one.

Try to imagine what it would be like if you could no longer drive. To most of us, driving means freedom and self-reliance. It’s a natural part of being an adult. Losing the independence that comes with driving may be upsetting. Having to rely on others to get around may feel uncomfortable for the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Keeping all of this in mind, how and when should you intervene?

A family member with dementia often adjusts better if they are involved in discussions about making the transition from driver to passenger. Some people, aware of the risks, will give up driving easily. Others may refuse to discuss the topic of driving, or they may exhibit resentment or anger when you start the conversation. You’ll want to be patient and acknowledge these feelings. The goal is to allow your loved one to maintain the highest level of independence and mobility while avoiding traffic risks. In some cases, it may be necessary to ask a physician or your family attorney to reinforce the message about safe driving.

When first diagnosed, a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s may still possess the skills necessary for safe driving. But because the disease is progressive, eventually driving skills will decrease and they will have to give up driving. Look for some of the following signs that indicate it’s time to limit or stop driving:

  • Loss of coordination getting in and out of the vehicle
  • Difficulty judging distance and space (e.g., parks inappropriately, hits curbs, drifts into other lanes of traffic)
  • Forgetting how to locate familiar places; returning from a routine drive later than usual; unexpected dents in the car
  • Difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects, or other vehicles
  • Making errors at intersections; difficulty with turns, lane changes, or highway exits
  • Failing to observe traffic signs
  • Stops in traffic for no reason
  • Driving at inappropriate speeds
  • Becoming increasingly irritated, confused, or nervous when driving

Once it’s determined that driving poses a hazard on the road, arrange for other forms of transportation such as friends or family members, taxis, public transportation, or special transportation services for older adults. (Note that taxis and public transportation work best for those in the early to middle stages of dementia.) In addition to transportation needs, the Alzheimer’s Association (800-272-3900) and the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) can help you find local resources and community services for having prescription medicines, groceries, or meals delivered to the home.

Bringing up the topic of turning over the car keys is a process. Over time, caregivers and doctors will need to begin the discussion and may need to return to it several times. Just as critical is knowing whether state laws require doctors to report any medical conditions that may affect their patients’ ability to drive safely. It’s never too soon to start planning a strategy to ease a loved one’s transition to becoming a non-driver.