A Place Where Peace of Mind Has a Home Address

Matthew House in Auburn is celebrating its 20th year anniversary with some special events this year

By Steve Yablonski

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Auburn is Matthew House, a two-bed, nonprofit, nondenominational home for people who are terminally ill and who, for a variety of reasons, can no longer remain in their own homes. 

Inside there are two windowed suites overlooking the backyard. Each suite creates a comfortable, private space for the resident and visiting loved ones.

Its mission, provide a home where people who are terminally ill can die with dignity and in comfort.

The house is named after a young man who had cancer and a lot of family to care for him. One of his final concerns before he died was to have a home for people with terminal illness and without family resources to die and be cared for as he was…not in a hospital.

“Under the guidance of a community-based board of directors, we open our hearts and our home to provide a loving space where we can support the residents and their loved ones as they journey toward a dignified death,” according to their website.

They provide services free of charge and rely solely on donations, memorials, fundraisers and grants to carry out their mission.

The executive director, Angela Ryan, manages the day-to-day operations of Matthew House. She is assisted by the manager of resident services, Shelly McBain.

Along with these two full-time positions, 12 per diem staff and trained volunteers contribute their skills in direct resident care, housework, gardening, maintenance, grocery shopping and a variety of other activities.

“Since our opening in 2002, Matthew House has welcomed more than 460 residents,” Ryan said. “Some are with us for weeks or months, others for only days. Even though small in size, we have touched countless lives in our community.”

Matthew House serves residents of Cayuga County and surrounding areas. They may be referred by hospice, hospitals, private physicians or family members.

The environment produced at Matthew House is most often positive, caring, happy and compassionate.

“Everyone that is here wants to be here and are special individuals with big hearts. We also have a very large team so if individuals need to step back or take a short break, there is enough coverage to help out. Most of the direct care volunteers do one shift a week which is four hours long so the care and responsibility is spread out,” the executive director said. “I firmly believe it is important to celebrate and honor end-of-life just as we do with birth. It is about finding quality and getting back to the little individual things in life that bring us joy. Most days here are filled with laughter, jokes and big smiles…and then we have a few days here with loss, sadness; but that is all apart of the end-of-life journey.”

Working affiliation

Matthew House provides the home and 24 hours a day, hands-on care. Hospice of the Finger Lakes provides the medical management services to residents as if they were in their own home.

Matthew House and Hospice of the Finger Lakes are separate entities with a working affiliation. Residents must have a diagnosed progressive disease with a limited life expectancy of three months or less and accept the philosophy of comfort care.

Matthew House is not a medical facility but rather a private nonprofit home.

Primary care is provided by Matthew House staff and volunteers under the supervision of the executive director and at the direction of hospice.

Resident selection is made based upon the person or situation presenting the most significant and immediate need. 

Potential residents must also have no extensive medical care needs beyond the staff’s ability to handle and must be able to be managed safely in a home setting.

Anniversary Celebration 

This year’s 20th anniversary kick-off event will be held on Friday, Aug. 6.

The event will be a dinner dance, which will be Matthew House’s largest fundraiser for the year. It will be held at the Springside Inn in Auburn.  It will be an evening of dinner and dancing, featuring the band Mere Mortals.

In addition to this event, there will be a variety of opportunities throughout the coming year to spotlight and celebrate Matthew House.

To learn more, call 315-252-2052 or visit www.matthewhouse.org.

Photo: Matthew House’s executive director, Angela Ryan (left) and Shelly McBain, manager of resident services. “Everyone that is here wants to be here and are special individuals with big hearts,” says the executive director.