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Harmony House of Western Massachusetts at 66 View St. is preparing to open its doors later this month.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

CHICOPEE — Harmony House of Western Massachusetts plans to open its doors at the end of May after years of obstacles.

The Harmony House was founded by the late Ruth Willemain in 2007 with one room in donated home to make sure that people at end of life were not alone and had the care and support they need.

The original home closed in 2020 to move the operations to the newly purchased space at 66 View St., but those plans had to be halted when the coronavirus pandemic began.

The renovations are now complete, according to Board of Directors President Gina Mazza.

She added, “We are getting ready to reopen the Harmony House in this beautiful new home in Chicopee and we now have a five bedroom home. Everybody is in a private space, and they have their own private room, their own private bathroom, a beautiful common area and deck.”

Its mission is to be a home and provide shelter with compassionate care for terminally ill individuals and will offer meals, laundry service, personal and spiritual care, along with companionship amongst the staff.

“Our mission is centered right around that. Residents are at the end of life and they don’t have a safe place, a safe home or a caregiver to take care of them, and that is where we come in,” Mazza added.

Right now, the organization is recruiting employees and caregiver volunteers as they can.

Mazza said that besides the residents at the home, the volunteers can also gain a lot from helping out.

She said, “The people that volunteer, everyone’s a volunteer, I’m a volunteer, the board, we have everyday volunteers and even the employees, they too get a lot from being involved in this mission. There is something about the culture and sense of community and helping and serving others that regardless of your role or how you contribute, you take so much from it.”

Mazza said she also looks forward to opening to help those in need of care.

“I am certain that there are so many people that need us. I know for sure that we’re going to change the way end of life care can be for a lot of people and that’s so important. We are helping our neighbors. We will help people and partner up with all the local hospices. It’s a very special place,” Mazza added.

Bishop William Byrne of the Diocese of Springfield recently led a special mass to bless the newly enhanced facilities along with its staff.

Members from the state and local government were also present to show their support.

Mazza talked about what this public support meant to a lot to her after years of working on opening and has gotten her even more excited to get going knowing the organization has a bunch of support.

She added, “He blessed the house, and he blessed all the employees and everyone who might be involved. We invited those who have been so supportive also and we had standing room only. It was really so beautiful to see so many people from all walks of life come together and get ready to open up his house. Everyone opened up their hearts. It reminded me that this is hard work and how important and worth it it is to do what we are doing.”

The organization exists on donations and some local grants. Mazza said the goal is over the next year, raise $100,000 to help pay for residents.

She added, “We are always looking for donations and we are very grateful for them. It’s a significant amount of money and it’s not unrealistic but we need to work hard to do it.”

Their fundraising kickoff will begin on Monday, June 10 with a wine tasting and silent auction from 5-7 p.m. at 350 Grill Steakhouse, 350 Worthington St., Springfield.

Mazza talked about the significance of the event being hosted in Springfield.

She said, “We are viewed as a Chicopee place but we are Harmony House of Western Massachusetts and it’s really important that we branch out because we want to able to serve people not only from Chicopee but from Western Massachusetts.”

Those looking to buy tickets or learn more about Harmony House can visit harmonyhousewma.org.
According to its website, to be considered eligible for Harmony House, a person must be an adult with a terminal illness, with a life expectancy of three months or less.

The resident must not require skilled nursing procedures or services, must be under the care of a hospice agency, and must have a do not resuscitate order in place.

Mazza said the best way to become a resident is work with your hospice agency.

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