On October 26, 2003, we welcomed our first guest to Clarehouse - in a little three bedroom apartment at Park Villas. I remember that day vividly. We had established our pilot plan, secured and prepared a rented, temporary home, and put the word out that we were ready to offer care. Then, we waited - anxiously, fielding only a very few phone calls, and wondering if anyone would really come. That first guest did come, and 9 days later, our second guest joined her. Then, 17 days later, a third. And so it began. We had created a home and family for people in crisis. With your help, we opened our doors and loving hospitality flowed.
This month, we celebrate 15 years of Clarehouse care. Today, our 4,106th guest was welcomed. It is impossible to gauge the number of people who have been impacted by the care provided to dying people in need, people impacted as family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers in the next room who become friends.
We have learned that this unique opportunity of dying in community space is rare and precious. As much as our own homes may always be our first choice for final days, the experience of a sharing such an important event in a community home offers unexpected gifts. Isolation, loneliness, and fear of the unknown recede as the spirit of compassion surrounds, lifts and sustains. Friendships are formed that may last a lifetime. Being truly present to each moment, when those moments are slipping away beyond our control, we all have the chance to connect with our humanity, our mortality, and our spirituality. This connection, borne in loss, can be the inspiration for growth as we claim the opportunity to look at our lives and relationships and contemplate what's next, knowing that as survivors, we will go on.
I'm deeply grateful to have spent the past 15 years immersed in this communal experience. I'm grateful for all who make Clarehouse care possible. And I'm grateful that the learning never ends.
Kelley Scott, Executive Director