Program gives families something to celebrate
If you are a Janesville area restaurant or caterer and would like to participate in Agrace HospiceCare-Rock County's Celebration Meal program, call their offices at (608) 755-1871.
JANESVILLE Dan and Ann Ferguson of Edgerton were, at one time, regulars at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Janesville.
"We tried to make it at least once a month with our friends to get together," Dan said.
But heart and liver failure have taken a toll on Ann, so "we don't get out at all," he said.
But things are looking up since the Fergusons learned about the Agrace HospiceCare Celebration Meal program. The couple can order meals from their favorite restaurant, and an Agrace volunteer will deliver it to them.
"It was really nice and generous. We really enjoyed it," said Dan, who now serves as Ann's primary caregiver.
Dan said that when the meal arrived it brought back some fond memories. The meal also gave him a break from having to cook three meals a day and clean up afterward.
"The nice part was we ate together," Dan said.
Jayme Roth, development manager/general manager of Agrace HospiceCare-Rock County, said the celebration meal program began in 1995, before she joined the organization. The concept is based on memories people experience during birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations that involve special meals.
At the start of each year, Agrace sends a letter to area restaurants and caterers inviting them to participate in the program.
"We ask if they are interested in donating a few complimentary meals throughout the year to a family or a patient and one other family member," Roth said. "Those that reply are on a list. So as one of the patient's care team members—social worker or nurse—become aware of a special occasion, they ask if the patient and a loved one are interested in going to a restaurant or having a meal brought to the home."
On average, about nine participating restaurants serve between 35 and 40 celebration meals each year, Roth said.
Pete Freeman, managing partner of the Texas Roadhouse in Janesville, explained the restaurant's participation.
"It's about giving back to the community," he said. "We're lucky and in a position where we have the ability to help others and give back something as little as a celebration meal that means so much to those getting it."