Top: Rachel Drew, right, poses with her parents Don and Lisa Bruce at the 2014 Vermont Respite House Fun Run and Jiggety Jog. Rachel is running again to honor her grandmother, Patricia Buckler of South Burlington. PHOTO BY DARIA BISHOP


Running for Respite House

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Thursday April 30, 2015

Rachel Drew remembers the feeling she had the first time she walked into the VNA Vermont Respite House to visit her Gramma Pat. “It was like walking into a living room. It put me at ease and it made me feel very comfortable.” Patricia Buckler (Gramma Pat) had been living at the Pines Senior Living Community in South Burlington when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, later, a massive brain tumor. Her care needs were too great to stay at home. A case manager at the hospital told her family about the Respite House. “Gramma Pat was given incredible, compassionate care at Vermont Respite House. We will forever be grateful for what they did for Gramma Pat and for our family,” says Drew.

On May 9, Drew is doing her part to give back by running in the Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run and Jiggety Jog. Every dollar raised will support the care of residents with terminal illness and their families. This will be Drew’s second year participating in this annual family-friendly event. This year the Fun Run falls on her 29th birthday. She cannot think of a better way to celebrate and to honor her grandmother.

“It’s such a positive event and a really uplifting atmosphere with wonderful volunteers. This is a cause very close to my whole family’s heart. I’ll be participating as long as I live in the area,” Drew shared.

Indeed, Drew is keeping up a family tradition. Her mother, Lisa Bruce (Gramma Pat’s daughter), was the top fundraiser at the 2008 Fun Run and Jiggety Jog, raising over $1,900, the spring after her mother passed away at Respite House. “I felt an emotional ease once my mom was at Respite House,” Bruce said of her experience in 2008. “And, every time I visited, I was asked ‘what do you need’? I received hugs from everyone – from kitchen staff to house managers to volunteers.”

Last year, Bruce passed the Fun Run torch to Drew when hip issues prevented her from participating in the event. Drew has high hopes she will surpass her $1,000 fundraising goal this year. Drew echoed her mother’s sentiment about the comfort Respite House staff provided. The family was grateful, Drew said, for counseling from staff on how to say goodbye. “We all took turns sitting around her bed and saying ‘I love you.’ I think it was really cathartic for everyone, having that chance to say goodbye,” Drew recalled.

Drew will honor those memories on May 9 and also help make sure other families can have quality end-of-life experiences with loved ones at the Vermont Respite House through support from the Fun Run and Jiggety Jog.

The Vermont Respite House is a unique model in health care today, not a hospital, nursing home or institution. It is the first and only Medicare-certified inpatient hospice residence in Vermont and is a program of VNA End-of-Life Care services. No one is turned away from Vermont Respite House based on inability to pay. Last year, Respite House served 214 people with terminal illness, providing them a home-away-from-home to live out their remaining days in dignity, surrounded by family and friends.

Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run & Jiggety Jog, Saturday, May 9, 8 a.m. registration, Allen Brook School, Williston. Visit vnacares.org/run to register online or to sponsor a participant). For more information about the VNA and the Vermont Respite House, visit vnacares.org.