To the Editor:
The Newaygo County Compassion Home’s goal has long been to establish a home for the terminally ill. The mission is to provide compassionate loving support to the terminally ill in a peaceful, comfortable home setting, while caring for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our guests and their families.
In the summer of 2017, we took a huge step in realizing this goal when we purchased the property located at 20 South Stewart Street in the City of Fremont. 20 South Stewart street was a large building with much history and stories to tell. The building was also in need of much repair, but that did not deter us from pressing forward. In conferring with contractors and other professionals, we quickly realized the timeline of fundraising and the extensive renovations needed for the home would be great.
As the word got out about our mission to provide care to the terminally ill at no cost to the guest, relying solely on donation, grants and the generosity of the community, we began to appreciate the support and partnership of our community members. Hearing about our vision, another location was offered for use to help us get started while we renovated the Fremont location. The Newaygo County Compassion Home officially opened the doors on July 12th, 2018, in a two-bedroom home, located within the city of White Cloud. The home had belonged to Alice Flinton, a longtime resident of White Cloud. Through the graciousness of Sharon Wolfsen (Alice’s daughter) and her family, we finally had a home to begin our work. Their belief in this mission and foresight for the importance of caring for people at the end of life allowed us to start caring for guests. Since opening, we have had the privilege of serving greater than 80 guests and hundreds of family members in this sweet, sweet home and what an incredible journey it has been.
Throughout this time, we have continued to renovate the Fremont location and we are so happy to announce that with the exception of some springtime landscaping, the home renovation has been completed as we await our final inspections and hope to officially open the doors soon. With the completion of the Fremont home, much thought and planning by the Compassion Home board members has taken place as to the future of both homes. This past year has been a challenging year for us all on many levels. As much as we have loved the home in White Cloud and are so thankful for the guests and families that we were able to serve through the use of this home, the decision has been made to continue our work from the Fremont location only at this time.
Several factors have played into this decision, including the financial constraints that would come with managing two households, as well as the challenge of increasing staffing and volunteer levels to maintain both homes. Needless to say, COVID-19 has made our fundraising efforts this year difficult, as it stunned our community outreach for much of this past year and has made it difficult to foster the volunteer program.
Transitioning to one home versus utilizing both has been a difficult decision, but financially, it is the correct thing to do at this time as we look towards sustaining our mission and continuing to serve the people of the county for years to come. With all things in life-change is inevitable and our new home will provide us with the ability to be more present on a daily basis. Opportunities that we will be able to focus on at the newly renovated location are exciting! The Fremont home has 4 large guest rooms, a new training/meeting room to teach new oncoming staff and volunteers, a large great room with plenty of places to sit and relax, and an onsite Chapel to offer a quiet place to reflect. We are fostering relationships with local colleges/universities to bring in nursing students for end-of-life care curriculum and look to build our volunteer base.
As we have outgrown our White Cloud home, it will never leave our hearts as it has allowed us to care for so many families and provided us a space to learn and hone our skills. Cheri Spoelma, grand-daughter of Alice Flinton, and a NCCH board member, plans to dedicate our respite room in honor of Alice Flinton. We will also have a framed ‘tree of life’ artwork displayed in our Chapel that is engraved with the names of previous guests served through our White Cloud location. We want to give a special “Thank You” to the community of White Cloud for embracing the Compassion home from day one, and although the new location is just a short drive away, the community of White Cloud will always be close to our hearts.
For more information on the Newaygo County Compassion Home or to learn more about volunteering, please visit the Newaygo County Compassion Home Facebook page or our website at http://newaygocountycompassionhome.org
Please join us for a Community Open House on Saturday, March 6, 2021 from 10am – 1pm at 20 S. Stewart Street, Fremont, MI 49412. If you have been following our progress and have been at past open houses, please come see us! You do not want to miss it!
Newaygo County Compassion Home
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