John Stauffer Casts Vision for Future

John Stauffer Casts Vision at Annual BreakfastA speech delivered by John Stauffer April 26th at the Annual Helping Hearts Giving Society Breakfast to cast a vision for the future of Helping Hands Respite Care.

It brings me great comfort to see so many familiar friendly faces in the room. Faces of individuals and agencies who have been assisting Helping Hands Respite Care in its effort to provide quality respite within our community for years. I also see many new faces, I welcome you under our respite umbrella – there is more work to do therefore I am very glad for your presence here today. John Stauffer, executive director casts a vision at annual Helping Hearts Giving Society

This year we have chosen to celebrate our successes. I think it is a fitting theme because we have had memorable successes in spite of working through a difficult climate. Over the last year we have experienced 11 deaths. Those who support us know the fragility of our clients, but this was an exceptionally high toll on families and for our staff to overcome this year. It is impossible to do the type of intimate care provided by our agency without getting emotionally invested, but we have chosen to celebrate the life of each and every one of those 11, in small ways each and every day, instead of mourning their loss.

This year has also been financially difficult, not just for us but for many non-profits. Many services have been cut and doors closed because of tightening of federal dollars to support non-profit causes. The constant struggle of trying to do more with less is something we have embraced at Helping Hands Respite Care and in a large part is what I am here to celebrate with you today.

I stood here before you a year ago and shared a vision, and it is from that vision that the successes I share with you today have become reality. The vision included restructuring who we are and how we operate as an agency, specifically through the use of volunteers. While like most visions it did not unfold exactly as planned but the results have far exceeded our expectations.

Kate's Memory Cafe logo for inclusion in speech by John StaufferKate’s Memory Café, born from this fund raising process, is a free service run by volunteer Katie Donovan and was already in existence when I spoke to you last year. This event takes place on the 2nd Sunday of every month. In the beginning I would join Katie and we would rush around getting the room ready, food prepared, musicians set-up, tables arranged for the guests that were about to share an afternoon with us of food, music, laughter, stories and even occasionally tears.

What has changed since I stood before you here last year? I have only attended one Memory Café session in the last year. Katie has developed a core group of volunteers like Loretta Keaner. Along with a larger group of “occasional” volunteers who have assisted her each and every month in assuring those families who attend have a warm, memorable experience. Volunteers who showed up because over the last year people like Vicki Rakowski, and Barb Zimmerman, shared their expertise in volunteerism to help our agency implement our vision of better service to our clients through improved utilization of volunteers. Vicki and Barb over the last year have created the manual that helps us recruit, train, and retain these volunteers. It is that which has helped Kate’s Memory Café enjoy the successes it has experienced over the last year.

One of our longest running programs is our weekend Respite House, a structure owned by McLaren Greater Lansing and staffed by Helping Hands Respite Care for 25 years. About a year ago McLaren Greater Lansing’s CEO, Tom Mee, caMcLaren logo for John Stauffer's speechme to speak at the East Lansing Rotary, a group to which I happen to belong. I seated myself at Tom’s table and struck up a conversation, three short weeks later I was in his office with Katie Donovan explaining to Tom ways in which we could work together. He called his marketing manager, Brian Brown, into the room. After a few brief conversations Tom had wheels set in motion that included some wonderful financial support to our agency, and an agreement to work with the community in supporting our efforts to update our aging Respite House.

 

Respite House renovation highlighted in John Stauffer speech.
Pi Kappa Phi volunteers helping at Respite House

When built, our Respite House had everything you could want in a handicap accessible structure, However that was 25 years ago and my how things have changed. With the help of a Go Fund Me campaign and a financial promise from McLaren we got busy updating. Our Board President-elect Jane Beaudoin and her husband Gary basically lived at the Respite House for a week last August. We changed-out appliances, scraped and painted basement walls, updated flooring, added wall mounted lifts to help with transfers, painted all the walls on the main floor, and completely gutted and rebuilt our bathroom with tiled walls and a zero-entry shower. The bathroom renovation can be attributed to Sam Tucker, another of our hard-working board members. He, his crew, and contractor friends made an absolutely amazing transformation in our bathroom. Our kids were lining up to take a shower, it was that much fun. (thanks Sam). Another board member who couldn’t stay away from the fun was our Board President, Kevin Beard, who showed up like a gunfighter ready for action with his tool belt slung low, he helped assure all our appliances were installed and working properly (thanks Kevin). Jane, our vice-president having seen the deplorable condition of our bedding gathered up her neighbors to help purchase new linens for the four beds at the house and this group of neighbors will forever now be known as the “Ladies of the Sheets.” The Greater Lansing Quilters Guild stepped up with three new quilts for each bed. Our kids love the vibrant colors and intricate patterns. In all, over 40 volunteers have helped in two structured project work groups to help turn our Respite House pumpkin back into a glittering carriage. A monumental task, but one that took on a life of its own and again far exceeded expectations all because of collaborators like McLaren Greater Lansing and a very large group of volunteers secured because of our new volunteer focus.

Our greatest success this year is the implementation of a new business model for Helping Hands that utilizes paid internships in each and every program we offer. The utilization of paid interns ensures quality care is accomplished at a far lower cost than a typical Helping Hands Care provider. The interns come from human service majors at Michigan State University. To date we have paid interns from family studies, social work, kinesiology and psychology. We are working with pre-med, nursing, and neuro-science to expand those available to complete a paid internship. These interns come to us usually as juniors or seniors and are excited about the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to work in a hands-on practical setting. We require each intern to complete our training which, as many of you already know, is the best in the area for those agencies providing respite. These interns must be with us for at least two semesters and their assistance will help stabilize any effect of outside financial influences like changes in minimum wage, because we control and set the stipend the interns receive. In our Beta test that started in January, we received an A grade from the University, mainly because we successfully completed and turned in, all the required paperwork. From the families and the interns themselves we get an A+. Just ask Mary Claire, who will share with us just a snippet of her personal experience as one of our Beta test paid interns.

There it is, the highlights of this year’s greatest successes we wanted to celebrate with you. Kate’s Memory Café,the Respite House face-lift and our new business model that incorporates paid interns. While all three are successes, much work still remains to be done. We have just scratched the surface on what we can do with volunteers. We only have one complete semester under our belts with our paid interns. We will look to you for support to help stabilize and grow these fledgling programs. Once that is accomplished your continued generosity and faith in our ability to provide quality programming and leadership in the area of respite in our local area will help us address our next big challenge. That is, our friends and collaborating agencies are currently knocking on our door and asking us to work with them and to help them in new and exciting endeavors that pertain to respite needs. Your support is the how and why we will be able, as an agency, to continue to make significant progress and with great impact in serving these respite needs.

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.

Rules:
– 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

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.