Heather McHugh

Daily Point of Light # 5257 Jul 9, 2014

Heather McHugh’s passion for nature and the arts shaped the course of her life as a teacher and poet, for some 40 years. But in 2011 the birth of her godson’s first child, a specials-needs daughter, inspired Heather McHugh to imagine forms of respite and reinvigoration for lifelong family caregivers—and so CAREGIFTED began.

Mobilizing artists, nature-lovers, business-leaders and philanthropists to acknowledge and relieve weary long-term family caregivers, CAREGIFTED celebrates the gifts made to society by millions of such caregivers, and helps lift their dispiriting isolation.

The organization awards full-time, unpaid family caregivers through all-expense-paid getaways, while also aiming to raise awareness about caregivers who have given a decade or more of their lives to serve the basic needs of those who cannot help themselves. Often isolated or ignored, caregivers give their days and nights to assist others constantly, and Heather has made it her personal mission to make sure these individuals are properly acknowledged and thanked.

Full-time caregivers of the severely disabled have sacrificed their own resources and ambitions to serve those unable to serve themselves. Such acts of love sometimes go largely unnoticed because these caregivers are generally confined to their homes.

Heather has successfully created a program that is honoring 10 families a year with vacations to Maine, California, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Through scenic vacation spots, Heather hopes that caregivers can refresh their perspectives and record their views in words and images, ultimately returning home better rested and represented.

Uniquely, CAREGIFTED distributes the caregiver’s vacation stories through their blog, videos, and other publications, which bring everyone together who share similar battles as a moral support system, an awareness session, and a sharing process. Caregivers have a common understanding that the giver is gifted, and Heather has done amazing things to make sure this statement is a continuous lifestyle for many.

Are you a caregiver yourself? Check out Heather’s resources here which offer additional tips and advice: http://www.caregifted.org/miscellaneous-resources/ or are you simply inspired by her mission? Read more about how you can help here: http://www.caregifted.org/help/

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