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A year ago, Mike H. Burke (longtime Vermont Adaptive volunteer) and his daughter, Maggie (Vermont Adaptive’s managing director), lost Ellen, a wife and mother dedicated to caring for others—whether it was her children, extended family, as a guardian-ad-litem, or simply helping a friend in need with a project. rough her encouragement, Mike and Maggie became a part of Vermont Adaptive in many ways—as volunteer, intern, staff member, friend, advocate, and now donors.
“I thought she would live forever,” said Mike, about his wife who lost her battle with Dementia at an early age of 68. “Now making a difference in her memory is pretty exciting, knowing that there is a chance to do what little we’re able to do—the fact that she can continue to do public service is a nice thing. Everyone who has ever been on a lesson with one of our participants or helped out at a fundraiser understands what it means to make a difference in someone’s life. If they’re like me, they’ve never thought about how to make sure the important work continues.”
Maggie said that when her mom was diagnosed with Dementia, as a family they had to do a lot of planning like navigating the health care system, the different options of different doctors and figuring out plans for living accommodations from living with family to eventually moving to an assisted living facility.
“This also included meeting with professionals to come up with a financial plan as we moved forward and considered end of life wishes,” Maggie said. “While Mom’s passing wasn’t expected, we had the peace of mind that we had a plan in place and understood what her wishes were.”
During a sad time, talking about how their family could make a difference in memory of Ellen helped. In Ellen’s obituary, the family asked people to donate to the library where Ellen volunteered in lieu of flowers. For anyone who reached out to the family asking what they could do to help, Maggie and Mike asked that they simply do a random act of kindness in the community in memory of Ellen. And lastly, they decided to make an initial gift to Vermont Adaptive’s Home Sweet Home Capital Campaign (which includes a new home at Sugarbush Resort) in memory of her.
“The gift we made, while significant to us, we know is just a ‘drop in the bucket’ of the overall project,” Maggie said. “We made the gift without being concerned of a name on a wall or plaque, but it is helpful that the whole mountain is named Mt. Ellen. That is naming rights enough!”
As they continue to move forward and reflect on the one year anniversary of Ellen’s passing, Mike and Maggie are excited to work toward a dream that will ultimately make a difference in the lives of others in Ellen’s memory.
“After what Ellen went through in her last years, it is very important to us that she be remembered for who she was for 95 percent of her life,” Mike said. “There is no better way to do that than to help build a facility that will be there for one hundred years. We know from Pico that participants and families can better relax and prepare for their day in the new building. Having seen how lessons get started at all three resort areas, I am convinced that participants at Pico have a great experience. Ellen would be wildly enthusiastic about replacing the Mt. Ellen space with a Pico-type facility. But the very last thing she would want would be to have her name engraved somewhere. She would insist that any money given was to be used to make the participant experience even more awesome.”
To make a legacy gift, contact Erin Fernandez, Executive Director, at 802.786.4991 ext. 21, firstname.lastname@example.org or Maggie Burke, Managing Director, 802.786.4991 ext. 30, email@example.com.
To make a gift on #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, click here.