The Birth of Crossroads House
Facing a terminal disease “alone” can be devastating, especially without the support of a 24-hour care-giving system and the tender loving care from family and friends. As we all know, the major responsibility for care of a loved one who is dying is on the shoulders of the primary care giver, be it either the spouse or family - and that’s if he or she is lucky to have one.
Most dying individuals want to die in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. As a Hospice nurse for many years, I had to send quite a few dying individuals who only had a few months to live to a nursing home because of the lack of a system in their home that would provide safe and adequate 24-hour care. The hospital could no longer care for them because death was not imminent, meaning expected within two weeks. Too often the dying person lived alone, with their spouse deceased and the grown children living out of town.
Another scenario that often played out was when the dying individual’s spouse was limited physically and/or emotionally, and unable to care for their loved one adequately on a 24-hour basis. So you see, despite resources in the community, there were people “falling through the cracks” who did not receive “end of life comfort care,” and being surrounded by the love of an extended surrogate family, in the home-like environment they so desired for their final weeks of life ... that is … until Crossroads House came to be!
There definitely was a need for a 24-hour “Comfort Care Home” in this community. After checking out other comfort homes in the Rochester area and in Geneseo, my dream began to take shape; the dream of facilitating this community to have their own Comfort Care Home for the dying, for the residents of Genesee and Wyoming counties, with no cost to the family. I brought this idea to my close friends and they gave me the much needed encouragement and support to go forward. I even recruited them to become members of the Board of Directors!
The first board meeting was held in February of 1996. Fundraising started immediately, as we had to pay legal fees to become incorporated and tax-exempt. Our next challenge was to find a home. God was certainly looking out for us because just a few months after our first board meeting, we acquired a vacant home located at 11 Liberty Street, in Batavia. This house was previously the manse for the Batavia First Presbyterian church. The church was contemplating whether to tear the house down to make the parking lot larger!
Fortunately the church believed in our mission and allowed us to rent from them for only $1.00 per month, as long as we were responsible for all the repairs and remodeling costs. What a blessing! Now we had a home that needed extensive repairs, and with no money to start the renovations. Then came more blessings ... On two different occasions we were able to get prisoners to help with the remodeling process. The community came through for us and area businesses donated building supplies and equipment. We even got volunteers to provide the manual labor.
The fundraising beat went on! Next we needed money to furnish the house as well as for operating capital once we were open. Once again, the community came through and we received donated furnishings. Staff was hired, volunteers were trained, the house was named Crossroads House (ask Betty James for that story), marketing was begun, and we “fundraised” until we knew we had enough operating capital to open our doors and provide our services.
Finally, after two long years, we accepted our first resident on January 7, 1998, and the rest is history! No more people “falling through the cracks.” We now can provide the home-like setting to the dying while the staff and volunteers become the dying individual’s “surrogate extended family” in an atmosphere of love and support 24 hours a day!
We are truly blessed and are deeply thankful for having such a supportive community, caring professional staff, dedicated selfless volunteers and an active working board of directors. Without all of these, Crossroads House would not be. Thank you to all of you, who made my dream a reality.
Directors of Crossroads House