The idea to locate a new comfort-care home for the dying in western Monroe County came to Sandie Ville as she was volunteering at Irondequoit’s Sunset House after the death of her aunt.
It was there that the Ogden resident realized that the county’s western suburbs could use another comfort-care home.
Since then, Ville, the founder and president of Aurora House of Western Monroe County, has attracted a wide range of support and volunteers who share her vision. She said Aurora House volunteers are attempting to raise $240,000 for construction and initial operating expenses. Volunteers hope to begin building the home in 2009.
"We have just been given 1.5 acres of land on Route 259 in Ogden," Ville noted.
In order to meet their goal of beginning construction in 2009, volunteers will host "A Starry Night" benefit dinner for Aurora House at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, at the Plantation Party House, 1875 N. Union St., Spencerport. Volunteers also have been compiling a cookbook featuring recipes submitted by community members and volunteers. Presale tickets are being sold for the cookbook, which also will be sold at Rochester’s Lilac Festival. Other fundraisers, including a Rochester Red Wings night, are being planned.
Volunteers also are reaching out to area churches. For example, parishioners from St. John the Evangelist Church in Spencerport and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Churchville have given donations, said Ville, who attends Spencerport United Methodist Church.
There are two comfort-care homes west of the Genesee River in Monroe County: Journey Home in Greece and Mt. Carmel House, which is located on the grounds of Rochester’s Most Precious Blood Church. There also is the new Elizabeth G. and Jennifer J. Hilderbrandt Hospice Care Center on the campus of Unity Hospital in Greece. This facility offers 11 in-patient hospice-care beds for patients who have more complex medical needs and a shorter time to live.
Comfort-care homes are able to provide hospice care to people who are unable to receive such care in their homes, said Bill Northwood, vice president of public affairs for Lifetime Care. He noted that the homes are an important part of the end-of-life system of care in the community.
"We have been very supportive of Aurora House because there are many people who live in southwest Monroe County, and it’s helpful to have access to these services in their community," Northwood said.
One of Aurora House’s key supporters has never personally used a comfort-care home for a family member. Jeanne Johnson of Ogden explained that she began to explore hospice options when making care arrangements for her ill grandmother, but her grandmother’s health failed too rapidly for her to pursue it further. She said as she was with her grandmother at the end, she was struck by a lack of resources to help her grieve.
"At that point, when I was speaking to God, I said there has got to be a better way," said Johnson, Aurora House’s secretary and treasurer who belongs to Spencerport United Methodist Church.
She met up with Ville, who was promoting the Aurora House idea, and Johnson learned that comfort-care staff and volunteers are trained to help shepherd families through the stages of death and allow them to grieve.
"My heart aches for people who don’t have a family member who holds their hand at the end," Johnson remarked.
Johnson, a certified public accountant, quickly volunteered to help Ville with such paperwork as incorporating the home. She said the need in the community is evident, as they find people who have to travel across the county for hospice care.
"Some have come up to us and said, ‘I wish you were open, because my mom needs a place,’" Johnson said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The next Aurora House meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at the Ogden Farmer’s Library, 269 Ogden Center Road.
Entertainment for the April 18 benefit will include Phyl Contestable and Alan Jones. There also will be a silent auction, a raffle for a new quilt and other raffles. Tickets are $40 for individuals or $75 per couple. For benefit tickets, call Bonnie at 585-752-9506.
Details on Aurora House are available at www.aurorahousewmc.com, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 585-313-9553 or by writing Aurora House of Western Monroe County, PO Box 21, Spencerport, NY 14559.