Our Home Expands

Posted on Mar 8, 2016 in Letters | Comments Off on Our Home Expands

Our Home Expands

Within months of opening our home, we expanded our care from two bedrooms to all four bedrooms of the house. Still there was need for our care, so volunteers renovated the home to add two more bedrooms so we could care for six residents at a time. The J. Stanley Coyne Residence was completed in 1998, which included a single-story addition that created a total of eight bedrooms, chapel, great room and spacious kitchen. The bedrooms of the original house were then used for staff offices. In 2003, a second home, The Tommy Coyne Residence, with eight bedrooms was built next door and the houses were connected for ease of access and ability to share resources.
Both homes were built under their $1 million budget and ahead of schedule thanks to the volunteer leadership of Al Antonini, Ed King and Mike King. Again our community stepped forward to donate the cost of building. Companies gave in-kind donations to furnish the houses. Our volunteer shifts doubled and our volunteer family grew to over 500 active volunteers.

Al Antonini
Board member, building committee

Al Antonini and Sr. Kathleen Osbelt on moving day 1998.

Al Antonini and Sr. Kathleen Osbelt on moving day 1998.

“Once I walked into Francis House and saw it, it got into my bloodstream and I wanted to be a part of it. This home is one of the best community assets we have. I was amazed that it was created and continued to flourish without any state or federal money, not even for start-up. That is unheard of, especially in New York State. I couldn’t believe they were operating in that small, two-story house with narrow hallways and doorways and stairs! We needed to expand for safety and to improve our care.
I think our biggest challenge in the early years was raising the money we needed. It was a matter of education because many people didn’t understand or want to think of end-of-life care and there was nothing to compare us to—we were such a new concept. Our biggest strength then, and still today, is our volunteers. Not one of us is too small nor is our job too small. It is what makes this ministry. Every little act comes together to make a huge impact. I have been honored to be a part of this ministry and help it to grow into two beautiful, comfortable, love-filled homes. After retirement this was my second life and will always be a part of my life.”

Gen SayaGenevieve Saya
FH Board Member 2003-2014, Board Chair, 2009-2014,
volunteer, resident assessments

“The first time I walked into Francis House was the day of the Open House for the 114 Michaels house in 2003. It was a freezing day, with negative temperature warnings on the news. But when we walked into the house, I was completely taken aback, even without residents you felt the peace and love of the families and supporters. The house was so warm, so loving. I left feeling like I had been in a really special place and I was blessed to be a part of it. I still feel that way 13 years later.”
In 2009, Gen was asked to become the first lay Board Chair of Francis House. She says she was never nervous. “I’ve learned that God watches over Francis House. I felt honored and knew that it would be different than any other Board or committee I had ever volunteered for. No matter your connection to Francis House—family member, staff or volunteer—you feel part of the family because you are accepted as family.”
“I’ve met with hundreds of people and they all have smiles on their faces. I’ve never heard the words “why me?” I am inspired every time I leave a resident.