The mission of Domus Pacis Family Respite is to offer individuals, who are on a challenging medical journey, like cancer, a homelike environment that encourages interaction with other family members and caregivers in a comfortable and peaceful surrounding.
Domus Pacis Family Respite (DPFR) was established in August of 2007 and given IRS 501(c) (3) status on July 18, 2008. The genesis for the idea was a "girl's trip to the mountains" that the founder planned and put into place for her mother and two sisters. Her mother, dying of lung cancer, wanted to visit the founder's "dirt" (future home site) in Breckenridge, Colorado. This "no regrets" trip required extensive coordination between Mom's doctor in Chicago and doctors in Vail, Colorado; coordinating handicapped logistics for travel, living quarters and eating establishments and assuring that her two sisters could attend by removing any economic barriers.
What occurred that week was to say the least - transformative. Mom had a week to completely forgot about her illness and delight in the glory of the summer mountains. The girls had a week to laugh, cry and prepare themselves for the times ahead. The day mom died, she still had the pictures of that special week by her side. This week showed the founder the power of the mountains and the need for cancer patients to get away for a time with their families, to forget about all the medical stuff and enjoy each moment. It also showed how difficult it was to coordinate and execute such a week with a very sick person.
In 2018, DPFR will coordinate respites stays for 150+ families. This is an increase of 800% from its inception. The fundamental program consists of offering to cancer and terminally-ill patients (and their families), pre-screened by a health care professional, a week in Summit County which includes appropriate housing, logistics, 24/7 contact staff person and discounts to various Summit County establishments and activities. Just as crucial, DPFR gives the community an opportunity to share their time, talents and treasure in very personal ways. Everyone can participate and contribute something of themselves...making baked goods for the welcome baskets, cooking meals (so the moms have a respite from meal planning and preparations), businesses can share products and services and property owners can donate those vacant, non-income earning rental weeks to a greater good...family to family. With only three fulltime staff and a cadre of donors and volunteers, Domus Pacis Family Respite is committed to bringing patients and their families together when most needed.
"Your respite trip was just what our family needed to gain perspective and remember that just because cancer snuck into our lives, we truly had and still have so much to be grateful for. I appreciate so much that your experience was memory based and not so much material based. Each person got something a little different out of the vacation, but one thing is for sure - our souls were rejuvenated and we gained the strength we needed to finish up this cancer journey, even though it is never truly over. While many tend to only wonder how the person diagnosed is doing, the truth of the matter is it affects the whole family. Your organization gets this!"
Jessica; mother of nominee, Lillian
"Prior to our stay in Copper Mountain with Domus Pacis, Jeff and I had not had the opportunity to get away and unwind. We thought about going away to unwind and recharge, but we would always make excuses. When Jeff and I were nominated to have a week to ourselves, we were thrilled. It was the first time we actually got excited for something outside of beating cancer. It was Jeff and I in the condo and we had nothing to worry about for one entire week. It was so peaceful to walk around the trails in the mountains holding my husband's hand. For that entire week, we did not think about medication, the hospital, laundry, grocery shopping, medical bills, etc. Domus Pacis gave us one full week of freedom from everything. I will never forget that week. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to reconnect with each other."
"We were met with wonderful smiles, caring personalities, and enough donations to make anyone's head spin. This opportunity to stay at a cabin in Frisco is not something financially we would have been able to do given our current situation so that made this even more special for the entire family. It was a time for the entire family to be able to remember what life was like prior to the "C" word. My kids curled up with me on the couch and watched movies, my grandchildren played games and put puzzles together, and my wife and I sat back and watched as my family was together physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. It is something that is hard to put into words, but a feeling that will not leave me anytime soon."
"We feel truly blessed to have had this experience. Much time, donations, coordination, and pre-planning goes into making these experiences meaningful for families and we are thankful for these efforts. It was a time away from normal life which often feels like "survival mode." We were able to step away from a life that often revolves around the realities of a chronic illness brought on by cancer; not only the physical limitations, but the multiple physician visits, test, treatments, therapies, and battles with billing and insurance. We had no pressure to be anywhere, and stayed in such a warm peaceful (and quiet!) house. All the details of our respite stay, big and small, were taken care of and we didn't have to worry about anything. Jack and I were able to spend time together reconnecting and reflecting on life. This has been very positive for us and our family as a whole."
For additional Reflections, see www.domuspacis.org