Volunteer of the Year – Loretta Keaner

At a recent meeting of the Helping Hands Respite Care, our Volunteer of the Year, Loretta Keaner was acknowledged. Loretta started working as a volunteer in January of 2016. Her service to Helping Hands Respite Care has included a weekly commitment to the Adult Day Services program, a monthly commitment to Kate’s Memory Café, and some assistance with our annual family picnic and hosting of The Ability Experience riders from Pi Kappa Phi.

Volunteer of the Year, Loretta, serves the Adult Day Services Program

Alison Sarkozy describes Loretta as a true asset to the Adult Day program. “She is a real go-getter, she always tell it like it is and is not afraid to put our caregiver staff in their place, “shared Alison. “ And, I love it! Anything you ask her to do she will jump right in without hesitation. Loretta is always there for our member/participants providing encouragement and support, and also being a non-judgmental sounding board if the member is working through a tough moment.”

Volunteer of the Year Supports Kate’s Memory Cafe

Volunteer of the Year, Loretta Keaner helping out at Kate's Memory Cafe with some balloon volleyball.Katie Donovan spoke of Loretta as her right-hand at making the Memory Café a success. “If there is some lively musical entertainment Loretta will jump up and encourage our visitors to clap along or even dance,” said Katie. “At our last Memory Café we had a mother/daughter duo as entertainment. They spontaneously decided to sing the famous song “My Prayer” ….everyone was transfixed and moved by the beautiful rendition of the song. I am so glad I caught Loretta in the background of the video of the ladies singing ….at one point Loretta slipped into the kitchen to grab a Kleenex to wipe her tears away. That moment of vulnerability just warmed my heart.” Loretta has also provides a very personal gift of service to my Mom at the Memory Café. While Mom attends as my partner in care, she doesn’t see herself as needing any help or support. Loretta treats Mom as a co-volunteer and always make her feel needed and useful. As Mom continues to decline in her own journey with dementia, these moments of competence supplied by Loretta mean so much to me – she can offer Mom something that I simply can’t give as her caregiver and daughter – a simple acknowledgment as a friend.”

Volunteer of the Year Pitches in at Annual Family Picnic

The Annual Family Picnic and Welcoming Event for the 37 plus fraternity brothers from across the nation is an opportunity for more service from Loretta. Putting on the picnic event is a big effort and every volunteer makes it that much easier to give up a Sunday afternoon in July for this event.

We are so thankful that Loretta so generously shares her time and talent.
It was an easy choice to single out Loretta Keaner as our 2017 Volunteer of the Year!

The Gift of Pancakes

Executive Director John Stauffer talks about the Gift of Rotary Pancakes

By John Stauffer, Executive Director of Helping Hands Respite Care and East Lansing Rotarian

East Lansing Rotary Pancakes in the Park is one of the things I look forward to every year. As a person who has spent most of their life in the marketing arena, and loves people, Pancakes in the Park is just a comfortable and enjoyable event for me. This year was special because the efforts of the committee included several new elements to the Pancakes event. If I were to summarize the committee’s work it would be simple.

Less work, more money, great job!

It is because of more than money that I stand before you today. In an effort to honor the “Service to Community” piece of Rotary, the Pancakes in the Park committee suggested this year to give a portion of the proceeds to a couple of the non-profits that they have associated themselves with in the past.

Helping Hands Respite Care, a non-profit that I have the honor of being the director for, was the recipient of a $2,500 check from the proceeds of the pancake event. We were given the opportunity to sell tickets, advertise the event on our website, and push the event to our friends on Facebook, and have a presence at the actual event. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. The committee invited me as the director of Helping Hands to be present at meetings prior to the event to share ideas and information as it pertained to advertising, promotion and the selling of tickets. It made the Pancakes event much more personal for me this year.

The Gift of Rotary Pancakes

Last week I walked in to the regular Rotary meeting and Amy (club treasurer) quietly handed me a check for $2,500, the commitment to Helping Hands that our club had made at the beginning of this process. The check was quietly folded and placed in my shirt pocket. It appeared uneventful, but it was anything but. I had a tear in my eye because of what that check represented. It was the culmination of a collaboration between the two organizations of which I am most proud to be a member.

This check represented the congruence of value and service between our two agencies – I believe everyone in this room is here because they see Rotary as a way to exponentially expand the things that we believe in and leverage the good work we want to see accomplished locally and globally. The check in my breast pocket last week was an acknowledgment from an agency I proudly serve, to an agency I proudly represent. An acknowledgment that you believe in the work we do.

Cathy Zell (president-elect) asked that I share a little about how our agency has or intends to use the funds received. What I say to you today is the fact that you entrusted the funds to our use without first requiring or directing what the use of the funds would be is so much more important than what we actually did do with those dollars. Thank you so much for your belief in Helping Hands, and for those of you who just have to know your funds are being utilized – they are being used to help us grow a new program at Helping Hands Respite Care where we use paid interns from MSU, students majoring in Kinesiology, Nursing, Family Studies, Social Work, Pre-Med and Psychology, to work directly in our programs and in the family’s homes of those we serve.

Helping to fund a program that will ultimately facilitate helping even more families who desperately need respite (a short break) from the intense responsibility of being fully present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for their loved one with a disability or failing health. For me…that is the Gift of Pancakes this year!

The Ability Experience and Helping Hands Respite Care

Ability Experience bike riders lined up in front of Helping Hands for a reception line

On July 30th  The Ability Experience happened in East Lansing as 37 hot and sweaty young men converged on Helping Hands Respite Care for a special visit.  These men, all part of a national fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, competed to be selected to be part of what some might consider 50 plus days of torture.  They hoped to be chosen to be part of an amazing, life-changing journey, aptly called the Journey of Hope.  It is all part of the fraternity’s national charitable fund-raising organization The Ability Experience event where three teams of riders are assembled to participate in a cross-country fund-raising bike rides. There are three routes planned across country – a northern route, mid- of the country route, and the southern route. They all begin in major west coast cities and end in Washington DC.  Each man selected to participate is responsible for raising the funds to cover the cost of their participation in a national cross-country bike ride, to train in preparation for the ride, and to assist in fund-raising.

For the past three years, Helping Hands Respite Care has been one of the friendship visit stops of the Journey of Hope riders.  Friendship stops are planned for the riders so that they may meet and engage with people with disabilities served by a variety of organizations.  You see, the mission of The Ability Experience is to not only raise funds to be granted to nonprofits like Helping Hands, but also to create a generation of future leaders who will have a greater understanding, compassion, and connection with people with disabilities. Helping the riders understand that while the people they meet on their journey may have disabilities – they also have many abilities!

Hosting the Ability Experience riders has become an event that we look forward to each year.

The Ability Experience games include Giant  Jenga. Two riders and Bob Sr. and Jr. Matheson took a chance with the game.

The past two years we have taken the community picnic to the next level by planning fun, interactive games for the riders to participate in with some of our clients and family members.  This year our “Ability Games” included the popular water-balloon human bowling pins, giant jenga, an old-fashion hula-hoop competition, pool noodle javelin throwing, flying discs, and corn-hole bean bag toss.

Putting on this community picnic and games is an effort that is largely accomplished by the administrative team of Helping Hands Respite Care.  Leading the charge in planning, set-up, and even game creation is our leader and executive director, John Stauffer.  Also at work before, during and after were:  Office Administrator Janette Lauzon (plus her team of young men that came to help set-up and clean-up); Scheduler Rhonda Mliakoff who joined in the food prep and cooking duties along with Adult Day Services Nurse Jane Rogers; Adult In-Home Supervisor Jeff Nunham and his wife Karen focused on the grills, cooking, and keeping the food line supplied; Consultant Katie Donovan provided some shade as she stuffed her 20×10 foot tent in her little Chevy and convinced the East Lansing Rotary Club to lend us two other smaller tents; and ADS program Team Leader Jeff Gindlesberger showed up early to help with set-up and clean-up.

Volunteers for Ability Experience Community Picnic

Volunteers included Connie Tubbs who arrived early to help with food prep; Bill Bartilson once again came prepared to create music and public address system for us; and Board Member Jane Beaudoin stepped up to fill a critical need for the riders….the Beaudoins convinced their condo association to allow the riders to bunk at the community building and pool overnight. Once the guys arrived it was clear that there was not enough room so Jane and Gary Beaudoin opened their home for more of the riders.

We had clients join in the fun from our Adult Day Services program, Kate’s Memory Café regulars, our Child-In Home program, and Adult-In Home.  Some care-providers who were on-duty providing respite care made sure to come and join in along with their care partner.  Several Board Members and donors also arrived for the picnic and festivities.

While we put on this event with the skinniest of budgets, and tax our hard-working team to get it all done, we find it to be so richly rewarding in those little moments where we interact with the riders, or have a moment to enjoy the company of client/families/friends in a social setting. This is an event that pays dividends of the heart.  To all of those who lent a hand to make this event happen …we are so grateful!



Special Online Event to Benefit Respite House

Donate for the Respite House Renovation – Get Raffle Ticket(s) for Prizes

Last summer, through the generosity of dozens of volunteers and supporters, and an amazing sponsor – McLaren Greater Lansing, we nearly completed the renovation of our Weekend Respite House. The Respite House facility, home to one of our most popular programs, Jerrilyn volunteers to paint at Respite House was in serious need of updating after 22 years of service. The handicap bathroom became even more accessible, a new paint job on the main floor, new flooring in the kitchen and bath were installed, and new appliances in the kitchen and the basement were installed. Additionally, much work was done on the exterior to clean-up and brighten the exterior and the garage.

Respite House Renovation Inspires More Needs

Focusing our attention on the Respite House renovation gave us the chance to see many other small projects which required our attention. Just like any homeowner, one project seems to lead to another.
As autumn arrived the funds and the energy for Phase 1 ran out – yet there was still work to do. One of the biggest ticket items we were not able to cover was the purchase of the power pack for the new lift mechanisms installed in each bedroom (many of the children who attend Respite House are in wheelchairs and need assistance to be transferred from chair to bed.) A new power pack costs approximately $2,000 and can easily be transferred from one bedroom to the other.Portable Lift Power pack for the Respite House
Other work yet to be done includes a facelift for the second-story sleeping quarters for caregivers (Weekend Respite House requires 24/7 care from our professional caregivers.) Plus, included in our Get it Finished wish list are the funds to go shopping in a specialty catalog for games and calming devices for children on the Autism Spectrum.

Respite House – Get it Finished Plan – being fueled by volunteers from AF Group

At the end of 2016, our friends at AF Group reached out to us with a special request – they were establishing a new employee volunteer program and were looking for projects for their employees. You can imagine that our first thoughts went to our Respite HousAF Group logo for volunteers helping on the Respite House Renovation project.e. We are pleased to say that a work session has been scheduled and we expect to be putting 10 employees to work over a two day period.

Covering the Costs of the Respite House Get it Finished Plan

Respite House Renovation Event Prize, handmade quilt with  teal and purple At Helping Hands Respite Care we have received some beautiful and relevant gifts to benefit our mission of Caring for Those Caring for Others. In Phase 1 members of the Capital City Quilters Guild stepped up and made beautiful quilts for the four Respite House beds. The quilters have continued to donate more handcrafted quilts and specialty pillow cases; and now we have enough quilts to be sure that we always have enough to dress the beds to match the age and interest of the children attending. There were a few quilts which were not exactly the right size for the hospital beds and so we have decided to offer two lovely quilts as raffle prizes to our online donors in a special promotion to raise funds for the Respite House.


Thanks to our friends at Wharton Center and the production company we aRespite House Renovation Event Prize - tickets to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. lso have two pair of tickets to the April 11th opening of the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Wharton Center. Based on the book of the same name, this play creates a powerful experience which leads to a greater understanding of the thought processes and perceptions of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

We have created an online event to sell tickets to cover the final costs of our Respite House Renovation project. Here is the link to the secure donation site at Network for Good.


The details for the Respite House Online Event are:

Fund Raising Event Period: March 24, 2017 to April 6, 2017
Cost of a Ticket: $15.00 – Each ticket purchased will serve as your receipt for your donation
Each ticket will be one entry into the drawing. When the event closes Helping Hands Respite Care staff will download the list of all ticket holders and create an individual slip to drop into a fishbowl for the drawing.

Drawing: Facebook Live Drawing on our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/helpinghandsrespite
Courtesy call to the winners will be made immediately following the LIVE drawing.
Prize Winners: Quilts can be collected at our administrative offices at 201 Hillside Court, East Lansing, MI. Ticket winners to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time may pick up their tickets at WILL CALL window at Wharton Center prior to show on April 11th.

– No limit to the number of tickets purchased
– Employees and Contractors of Helping Hands Respite Care may not participate
– It is the responsibility of the prize winners to pick up their prizes on a timely basis
– This is an online/limited time promotion. No accommodations can be made for offline participation due to the short timeframe

Should you have any questions about this promotion, direct an email to Katie@helpinghandsrespite.care

Time to Volunteer?

Picture of hands holding the letters that spell Volunteer

Helping Hands Respite Care Needs Your Help

Do you have time to volunteer? The Respite House is a very special, long-standing program of Helping Hands Respite Care.  It is a small bungalow which is used nearly every weekend of the year for four children with disabilities to come together for a weekend sleepover under the supervision of Helping Hands Respite Care professional care providers.  The Weekend Respite House program is one of the most popular and always has a waiting list.  The families who are lovingly vigilant for their loved ones get the benefit of 48 hours respite in order to rest and rejuvenate.


The Respite House was established 22 years ago and at the time was modified for handicap accessibility.  A lot has changed in that time and very little has been done to update the Respite House. It is long over-due for a face-lift.  That is where you come in as a volunteer. While we have some professionals lined up to upgrade the bathroom and do some needed window replacements and carpentry projects, we have a long list of activities in which volunteers could participate.

So Much To Do – Time to Volunteer

We have 18 days beginning August 22nd through September 8th to complete the Respite House Face-lift. We have designated 7 days for volunteer activities.

Friday – August 26

Saturday – August 27

Friday – September 2

Saturday – September 3

Tuesday – September 6

Wednesday – September 7

Thursday – September 8


Each day has two four hour shifts (8am to Noon and 1pm to 5pm) – 1 hour for briefing and orientation at the Helping Hands administrative offices at 201 Hillside Court in East Lansing, and 3 hours of work at the Respite House (You will be supplied with the address and parking instructions at the briefing).  To learn more about this volunteer opportunity here is a link with more details on the project:    http://www.helpinghandsrespite.care/respite-house-face-lift/


If you are good with any of the following tasks you could be part of our team:

  • Breakdown/Clearing for new construction
  • Yard work, Cleaning, and Organizing
  • Cleaning and Preparation for Painting
  • Painting Interior Walls and Trim
  • Painting/Waterproofing Basement Walls and Floors
  • Painting Exterior Doors and Handicap Ramp
  • Minor Repair Work and/or Installation of Window Treatments
  • Moving in and installing appliances

Can’t Volunteer? You Can Still Help

Please note that we are still fund-raising for this project, there are many things we can do with added funds to enhance the environment and experience of the Respite House program for the participants. So, whether or not you are able or interested in volunteering, you can help us with a gift of support.  The link for online donations is www.gofundme.com/respitehouse   We have been blessed with a promise from McLaren Greater Lansing that gifts will be matched, so anything you can give will be multiplied.


If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to call Katie Donovan, Consultant to Helping Hands Respite Care 517-242-7355.



Pancakes in the Mail

Stack of pancakes for Pancakes in the Park Free Tickets for Pancakes

Well, not the actual pancakes, but FREE tickets to Pancakes in the Park. Sunday June 12th is the Annual Pancakes in the Park event at Patriarch Park on Alton Rd. in East Lansing. Watch for the park sign off Saginaw Avenue near St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Pancakes in the Park are served from 8am to 1pm.

Free Tickets for Pancakes  in the Park

These tickets come to you compliments of Rotarians John Stauffer and Katie Donovan and several other members of the East Lansing Rotary Club. When you come to the park be sure to take time to experience the new play space. It is handicap accessible and has a soft landing surface. Come to the park, eat some pancakes and have some fun!

Visit play space during Pancakes in the Park

If you missed this letter in the mail, give us a call 372-6671 or stop by for your FREE tickets.

Free Tickets to Pancakes in the Park

Stack of pancakes for Pancakes in the Park Free Tickets for Pancakes


We Families at Pancakes in the Park have Free Tickets for Pancakes in the Park. Mark your calendar 8am to 1pm on June 12th – the East Lansing Rotary Club is making Pancakes in the Park!  If you are a family we serve at Helping Hands Respite Care, you will be our guest to have breakfast FREE, compliments of Rotarians who work at or support Helping Hands.

All you need to do is let us know how many tickets you want and whether you want them set aside for pick-up or to be dropped in the mail before June 6th. The pancake breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, grilled apple slices, juice, and coffee.  Come and enjoy breakfast, rain or shine, at Patriarche Park in East Lansing, June 12th from 8am to 1pm.  The new play space at Patriarche Park is funded through the efforts of the East Lansing Rotary Club and is handicap accessible, so plan on staying a while to have some fun in the park.

The Story of our Fund Raiser

As told by Jeff Nunham, Supervisor – Adult In-Home Care

Have you ever attended a Fund Raiser event where the food is actually delicious and the speakers are riveting? As fundraising events go, they can be all of that, but in my experience they tend to be a moment of emotion with little substance that rises like steam and quickly dissipates into the air. On the 27 of April, we hosted our annual Helping Hearts Giving Society Fund Raiser Breakfast, themed Rising to Challenges, and it was, in my experience, a meeting I will remember for a long, long time. What I saw, heard and felt will stay with me because it will encourage me to work with greater purpose and passion. I would like to share my take on two of the several excellent talks we heard.

The room was full. The food was good. But the speakers were extraordinary. As I sat listening to them, I was moved. The reason? All of them spoke with deep emotion and transparency. Each speaker’s life has been deeply influenced by someone with a disability.

Aunt Michelle explained the tragic story of her sister’s life and sudden death and how her two nephews, Josh and JC came to live with her. Her sister made poor choices. The life she offered her two sons was….difficult to say the least. Josh and JC, her teenaged boys are on the Autism Spectrum with Fragile X Syndrome. When mom suddenly died, the two orphaned boys were about to become wards of the state. Michelle and her husband were newly “empty nesters” when Community Mental Health called to explain the situation. Michelle said yes, Josh and JC, with all their special needs, could come to live with her.

As her story unfolded, I could sense a collective groan sweeping the room. Would I have said yes? I felt a deep surge of emotion as Michelle described her love for these two young men. Her words took us into their living room as she described the way they watch TV together. JC looks at the TV and then back at her and then the TV and back at her. This goes on and on and on, until she turns to look at him and smile. Aunt Michelle is their life. She has given them a life of love and stability, something they had never had before. In her words, she could do this because of the help she received through Respite Care services. I felt gratitude to be a part of an organization that supports families who, through love, are providing care for a child or adult with a disability.

About the time Josh and JC came to live with her, Michelle determined to return to college to get her Bachelor’s degree. Again, we sat in wonder as we thought about all that she overcame in order to achieve this tremendous goal. Last fall, while the boys were at our Respite House, she walked across the stage at Spring Arbor University and was awarded her Bachelor of Social Work degree. We had a hand in that moment. It wasn’t huge, but it was significant. Her words, richly validated the reason we were in the room and being asked to contribute to an organization that supports dreams and the dear people who have them.


Special Guest at Fund Raiser – Lt. Governor Brian Calley


Another talk was given by a special guest. The Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan, Brian Calley accepted our invitation to speak. As the Lt. Governor began to talk, he moved away from the podium toward the seated guests. I wondered if he was able to talk, not as a politician, but as a father of a child with Autism. That is exactly what he did. Brian spoke like a dad who loves his daughter. He spoke like a husband, who with his wife provide love and nurture for a child whose world is very different than most children. His talk was not what you would expect to hear from a high official of our state. His words were gentle, sensitive and obviously heart felt. He spoke of his struggle in his own household. About taking his child out in public, getting stares and scolding looks as if to say, “Why can’t you get your child under control.” He shared with us the constant challenge he and his wife Julie face, fighting the temptation to withdraw from everyday routine activities and relationships. Isolation, he said, is a constant threat. As a couple, they have great concerns about being able to trust the people who offer help. The temptation is to never ask, then adjust your life routines until no one comes over; you never go out; you huddle together as a family, alone. Brian wanted everyone in the room to know that this is what it can be, but does not have to be. His words were powerful.

Everyone was touched. We all heard how vital Respite is. We all understood how difficult, but important it is to trust someone to care for your child. We all knew that marriages and sometimes life itself is depends upon Respite. As John Stauffer our executive director says, “Respite is not a luxury, it is a necessity.” We all got it.



As Helping Hands board member, Sam Tucker took the podium, he knew that his responsibility was to ask the crowd to open their hearts and wallets to support this vital, life necessity. He struggled to do this. Not for fear that he might not choose just the right words to make a compelling “pitch.” But his struggle was the emotion welling up inside him as he tried to speak of his experience caring for his and his wife’s parents in their last years. They didn’t know about Respite Care services. They struggled as all people eventually do. The impact of this upon Sam led him to establish a business which focuses on the construction needs of the family who are caring for a loved one at home.

When the breakfast was finished and all the guests were gone, we gathered our things and left. We reassembled back at the office and began opening the envelopes into which the guests had placed their gifts and pledges. There was an air of excitement and wonderment. What had we just experienced? For me, I felt like I had witnessed something very special. Aside from the fact that we had nearly twice the number of guests than we had last year, I felt like our Helping Hearts Giving Society which was birthed last year, stood up and took a “first step.” We are the Helping Hands Respite -Helping Hearts Giving Society and we are making a difference in the lives of families. Together, we unite our hearts and hands to prove the power of respite.

I Love Kate’s Memory Cafe

Kate's Memory Cafe logo

A Reflection by Kate’s Memory Cafe Facilitator – Katie Donovan


One year ago, the first gathering of the Memory Café happened in the “Good Morning” room at Helping Hands Respite Care. It was so exciting to see this program launched. My excitement was quickly eclipsed by a wave of sadness when Hank and Sue got up to dance. The physical similarity of this beautiful couple, so obviously in love, brought back memories of my own Dad and Mom and their struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. I had to step out of the room to compose myself for a few minutes. Learning that they had just recently gotten their diagnosis reminded me of what a tough journey they would have ahead of them.
You see, my father had Alzheimer’s and ultimately passed away in March of 2004 after years in the clutches of this progressive disease. The challenges that these caregivers are facing daily bring back so many memories for me. Yet, facilitating the Memory Café has been such a blessing in my life. I feel such a kinship with the people who come – both those with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia and their care partners.


During the time of Dad’s progression with the illness our family was fortunate – we had a mother who was a strong and resourceful caregiver. I was part of a sibling group who found a way to be on the same page about care for both Dad and Mom despite the fact that two of the four of us were not able to participate on a day-to-day basis except by phone and email. Yes, we faced frustrations. Yes, we were often confused about new stages and behaviors related to the disease that we saw in Dad; and yes, we were concerned about the near future and the health of our mother as the burden of care extended from months into years.


Kate’s Memory Cafe #1 Volunteer


For nearly every gathering of Kate’s Memory Cafe, my Mom has come along to be my “#1 Volunteer.” She is 86 and is not as strong as she used to be; she has recently surrendered her driving privileges, and unwillingly succumbed to the reality that she needs hearing aids. I admire her spunky attitude and her amazing ability to make new friends. But, my heart breaks a little bit each time because I know that Mom has a form of dementia which seems to be progressing.


The lesson that I continue to learn (and often share at the Memory Cafe) is that every day is a blessing and it is my job to respond to my Mom’s confusion with compassion, and to her endless loop of stories as if I am hearing them for the first time. I remain vigilant for those moments of clarity that she still has, and eagerly welcome a new reminiscence about her life that I have never heard before. (Just a few weeks ago I learned that my Dad painted his car with flat black house paint on the day before he and Mom got married.)


It is such an honor to share new ideas and resources with the care partners who bring their loved one to Kate’s Memory Café. At Helping Hands Respite Care we are pleased to have the financial support of the AF Group to cover the costs of the Memory Café, making it possible for us to continue to offer this opportunity for respite, fun, and relaxation to all who might wish to come.


Hank and Sue still get up to dance at the Memory Cafe, although Hank is losing his words and sometimes forgets that Sue is his wife. For many who attend the lessons on the importance of respite are beginning to sink in, and our numbers are growing. Why do I spend my free time on the Memory Café? I do it for the memory of Dad, I do it for Mom, I do it for me.


Kate’s Memory Café is a free service offered at the offices of Helping Hands Respite Care once a month on the second Sunday (except when the date coincides with a major holiday). It is for those with a diagnosis of early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s or Dementia and their care partner. A care partner could be a spouse, a sibling, an adult child, or anyone else who has taken on the primary responsibility for care. The aim of the Memory Café is to offer both an understanding and appreciation for respite, and the tools to help the primary caregiver build a natural support team. The gathering includes socialization, live music, snacks and a meal, a fun activity and a brief educational opportunity for the care givers.  To learn more or to reserve a spot email : Katie@helpinghandsrespite.care


Transitioning into the School Year

Clean Up Day at BBT is all part of transitioning to the new school year. Executive Direct John painting as participant Jimmy supervises.

The Breaking Barrier Today (BBT) program made it through its first summer and is transitioning into the school year! This was an accomplishment for all of us including parents and your loved ones, care providers, Gier staff, and others. BBT has cleared many hurdles to get to where we are now. Between moving to the Gier Community Center; setting up our spaces; getting used to having a summer camp and many campers running around; and going on field trips, we have learned many new skills. We transitioned from the Beekman Center to the Gier Community Center, and now we are learning to transition from a Summer program to Fall Program and merging the former After School Program into our processes at BBT as we offer after school care.
A special thank you goes to the parents for how flexible and patient they’ve been throughout this transition. As we venture into the first Fall Semester of BBT, this again will be a transition but also a time to establish a great foundation for BBT and all that it can be for families and participants as we go forward.
On Thursday, September 10th Helping Hands Respite Care coordinated a spruce-up day at Gier Community Center, especially in the arts and crafts room. The arts and crafts room is just one of the wonderful assets we have at our disposal at the Gier Community Center and we are happy to do our part to make sure that all the spaces we use are in good shape and ready to benefit our participants and the community.
On September 14th from 6-8pm at Gier Community Center, BBT will be holding an Open House for those who would like to find out more about the program and may be interested in having their loved one attend.
Lastly, the program has been published within the Lansing Parks and Recreation Program Guide and has been mailed to households throughout the City of Lansing. This is great exposure for BBT and also Helping Hands Respite Care. Yet another way to make it known that respite care exists and the benefits offered to families, especially those with children and young adults with special needs.
We hope everyone had a great Labor Day, and that it has been a smooth transition for those of you who are going back to school and/or work!  Should you have any questions about the BBT program, please feel free to contact Elizabeth Krumm, BBT Supervisor at aspsupervisor@helpinghandsrespite.care