Yo, hola, howdy, ahoy and a high five. Heather McHugh here--writer and teacher, and CAREGIFTED's founder. Why the non-profit's name? Because the givers ARE gifted. With us, it's no mere truism.
The most gifted people give up their professions, their leisures, their peace and quiet, their chances at study, travel, contemplation or conversation-- often their own health!--to keep someone they love from being institutionalized.
After a decade doing heavy-duty care (diapering, laundering, cooking, feeding, lifting, getting relatives to hospitals and therapies, repairing what's broken, maintaining what can never be fixed), many caregivers themselves are at risk. Their motives are loving, but they get exhausted. If they break down, we ALL pay.
Every extended family has one such caregiver-- seldom seen, but legendary. Look around any neighborhood in America: Many of your own neighbors are these quiet heroes.
The weariest of them--those who have been at it for a decade or longer, and are depleted in strength, health, spirit, or financial resource-- they are our chief concern at CAREGIFTED.
We afford them unusual upscale island or vineyard getaways, so they can rest and recharge. All expenses paid. (Having concierged the first two years of caregiver getaways, I can attest to the remarkable transformations that occur. Caregivers finally relax, go for walks in beautiful surroundings, read or sleep when they want, are treated to whale-watching or birding excursions, enjoy fine dining, experience the benefits of professional massages: at last they have care lavished on themselves. Many say it gives them a restorative boost for facing the next ten years.
These caregivers did not choose the lives that befell them or their loved ones--didn't choose to be inundated, isolated, ignored. So many of the rest of us merely avert our gazes. Instead we owe them our respect and acknowledgment--and, where possible, a week's getaway, after ten years of work.
Most CAREGIFTED alumnae choose to share their stories (in written testimonies or in the documentary UNDERSUNG); some are featured on this very blog-site where you've joined us.
So welcome! Here you'll get a taste of real lives, real challenges, and real loves-- not the idealized air-brushed stuff we're fed too much of already.
Heather McHugh Founder and President of CAREGIFTED July 27, 2013