Progress Report on Respite House Face-Lift

Progress Report on Respite House project. Pi Kappa Phi volunteers shown in group shot with tools.

We are working hard to get to the end of this project but wanted to stop for a moment to give you a progress report on the Respite House. You have all heard the old adage “the best laid plans of mice and men” – it means that no matter how you hard you plan, there will always be things that go wrong.

Well, when it comes to the Respite House project our best laid plans went both right and wrong. In the right column we have:

RIGHT: Our timely meeting with McLaren Greater Lansing’s CEO, Thomas Mee. What an affirming experience to know that our new friends at McLaren believe in what we do and graciously stepped up to help us close the funding gap for the Respite House Face-Lift project. The $16,000 raised, at last count has leveraged $45,000 in repairs, materials, and new appliances.

RIGHT: The 18 and counting donors who contributed to the Go Fund Me campaign. Many who have already been acknowledged on the same day or next day after their gift. Stay tuned for more on this topic. You can still help us enhance the Respite House experience for the kids by going to to make a donation.

RIGHT: The incredible and reliable help we received from Board VP, Jane Beaudoin and her husband Gary; the professional guidance and coordination from Board Member Sam Tucker who helped us make decisions about our projects and leveraged thousands of dollars of value from so many of his contractors and vendors for his Home Management Company (HMCO); and, Board President Kevin Beard’s willingness to step-up and pitch in on several fix-it projects. Staff member Dawn Todd for showing up to help us clear the decks for the work to begin and for bring her son Antonio Todd along for some of the heavy lifting.

RIGHT: Those volunteers who responded to our call to sign-up for work shifts: including Bob Conway father of Cassidy and Kylie, who value and count on our respite services; Bonnie Jordan and Stan Kranz, regulars at Kate’s Memory Café who showed up four times for work sessions; volunteer nurse Vicki Rakowski for pitching in to help with the basement clean-up (something that we didn’t put on our list but desperately needed to be done); and 10, yes 10, members of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity who kept Volunteer Coordinator Katie Donovan hopping for a whole Saturday afternoon; the Life Leads group volunteers Sarah (plus her two boys, and Vyra; and the Ladies of the Lake – Gayle, Susan, and Jaye who responded to our Facebook request for help and took a shift which included prepping, painting, and cleaning.

And, in the WRONG column:
WRONG: With any home improvement project there will be surprises, and we had more than our share, including temporarily losing track of the toilet for the bathroom.

WRONG: Our two and a half week timeline expanded to more like four and there are still some lingering projects.

WRONG: We discovered a wall in the basement that needs some serious attention. Plus we had to delay replacing the basement windows because of lack of funds and other more pressing projects.

WRONG: Our daily work of the agency continued even though the Respite House Face Lift required lots of attention. Not going to lie – my daily productivity suffered here at the Administrative office, and the project suffered without a focused project coordinator.

WRONG: Communication and expectations were sometimes a problem. But, somehow we made it through.

So, you can see that our WRONG list was much shorter than our RIGHT list and there is lots more that I didn’t include in the RIGHT list. As we are approaching completion of this project it is easy to imagine the kids and the families that count on and deeply appreciate the value of this weekend respite program. We are all excited to turn it back to the staff, family and kids.