Beacon Newsletter- Summer 2017

Posted - August 16, 2017

And the BEAT goes on … 2017 !

It may be hard to believe, but it’s time to mark your calendar for our annual “And the BEAT goes on…” fundraiser, to be held on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at Locust Hill Country Club.

There are so many meanings behind this name—the beat of life of all who have stayed at Har­bor House; the beat of life for so many patients; the beat that is here at Harbor House in the fabulous volunteers we have; the devoted staff. “And the BEAT goes on” is a celebration of all these things. It is also a chance for all of us to en­sure that the beat of Harbor House will continue for families when they need it most.

Many, many people help to keep our mission alive—our board of directors, staff, volunteers, past and current guests, supporters, hospital staff and others, too. I call this collective group our “Harbor House Family.”

As a member of this “family” there are so many ways YOU can help us with our fundraising ef­forts. Here are just a few:

  • You can donate goods and/or services to our auction.
  • Your company can become a corporate sponsor for our event.
  • You can attend the party!
  • You can bring others and in­troduce them to our cause.
  • You can volunteer at the event.
  • You can make a donation of money or products like laundry detergent, paper goods or food.

In so many ways, YOU are an important piece of the puzzle of a successful fundraising campaign.

Harbor House has provided over 9,000 nights of rest to fami­lies from all over the U.S., and China, England, Egypt, India, Canada and Yemen. We’ve had a huge impact on families in need.

If you are able to donate goods or services to be raffled off at the fundraiser, please contact Joan at your earliest convenience, since we need to receive these dona­tions by September 1 in order to organize and process them. Please be a part of our fundraising efforts. Joan is waiting to hear from you!

Thoughts from a House Guest

My husband was rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital with heart problems. We are from Schenectady, NY, which is 4 ½ hours from Rochester. Needing a place to stay, I was referred to Harbor House by the hospital.

My first impression was that the house radiated with a light that broke through the swirling storm within me. Joan met me at the door with a friendly smile. When I walked inside, a calm peacefulness washed over me. She made sure I ate something, we talked, and she showed me to my light and inviting room.

As the days went by, I got to know Joan better. She is a won­derful, caring lady and a good listener. I also got to know my housemates and the volunteers.

It’s true—Harbor House is like a trusted lighthouse that sends its beacon out and stands strong day and night. It’s a safe haven, welcoming distant, wea­ry travelers who come together to laugh, cry and share life stories with one another. With our new friends, we journey through some of the toughest times of our lives.

Harbor House is a blessing. I am so grateful I found it.

Brenda Foust

The Sisters of

Gamma Phi Beta:

A Lifetime

of Service


It was a very fortuitous meeting the day Betsy Tietgen introduced me to her lifelong friend Sue Bloch. Sue is a University of Rochester Alumna, and the adviser for the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority.

Sue encouraged the current sorority sisters to become in­volved with the Harbor House. They jumped right in and helped us with our “And the Beat goes on…” fundraising event last year. The girls loved that experience, and wanted to explore more ways to become involved. Since then, they have been a devoted group, working on both long-range proj­ects and one-time events. Some of the sisters have even helped to staff the house as volunteers.

The alumnae Gamma Phi Beta sisters heard what the current sis­ters were doing, and they wanted to be involved in some way too. We now have a lovely group of Gamma Phi Beta alumnae who bring meals every other Wednes­day evening to the families that are staying at Harbor House. The thoughtfulness that goes into each meal and the care of preparation never cease to amaze me. These women come faithfully bringing their beautiful dishes and act as if it’s no big deal.

Well ladies, to the families who will never forget coming home after a perfectly horrible day to a lovely meal, it IS a big deal. You are a wonderful example to the current sisters of practicing a lifetime of service to others. We thank all the sisters of Gamma Phi Beta, both past and present, for sharing your loving hearts with the Harbor House.

U of R Gamma Phi Beta Sorority helping around the house

(Above: Sue Bloch and Janet Gefteas)

Amazon Smile

Every little bit helps! When you shop online, log in to Amazon through “” and choose us as your charity: Harbor House of Rochester. Amazon will donate 0.5% of every eligible item you purchase directly to us!



Volunteers in the Spotlight:

St. John Fisher

Service Scholars

There were several years when I was desperately in need of volunteers to help me with the day-to-day work of running our house. Someone suggested that perhaps college students would be interested in spending time with us and working for us as an escape from studying and from college life. So I started calling around. 

(Murray Wright & Brittany Habermas: top; John Dora: Right)

When I contacted St. John Fisher College, I learned about their Service Scholar Program. High school students who are academically on track and who have a proven track record of community service are offered a

service scholarship to help offset the cost of tuition at St. John Fisher. They receive this scholarship in ex¬change for continuing to perform at least a set number of hours of community service each year.

Brittany Habermas was one of the first Service Scholars to volunteer at the Harbor House. She developed a strong connection to our mission, and it wasn’t long before she became an integral part of our program. She has been volunteering with us for three years. I can’t bear to think about her volunteer days coming to an end next year when she graduates—her shoes will be very hard to fill!

Murray Wright was my next St. John Fisher College volunteer. I always could count on Murray to take on the tough tasks with enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. He just recently finished his final year and will be moving on to his graduate program in pharmacy. He will be truly missed.

Some of the other Service Scholars who came to us helped with our fundraisers. A friendly, outgoing student by the name of John Dora was among them. When John agreed to volunteer at our fundraiser, he was not truly aware of what the Harbor House actually did and who stayed at the house. After the fundraiser I spoke to him and he was very touched by the fact that we often help families of heart patients. He felt an immediate connec¬tion to our cause as his family had similar experiences. He very much wanted to be part of our program. I am hoping John will continue volunteering here again next year.

I thoroughly enjoyed hav¬ing these three amazing St. John Fisher students as part of our vol¬unteer staff. They always were ready and willing to take on any¬thing. They even learned how to properly make a bed, clean bath¬rooms, do laundry and more (but I promised not to tell their moms).

As great as they were at the necessary household tasks, it was the kind and caring way they interacted with our guests that made them truly special. I hope they all enjoyed their time here as much as our families enjoyed their presence.

Let’s Talk About Terrific Teens

This issue’s pick for our teenage volunteer is a quiet, sweet young man by the name of Joe Nenno. I have a history with Joe. As a matter of fact, I have known him his whole life. He lived next door to me several years ago.

In some ways he hasn’t changed much from the time he was a little boy. He has always been a man of few words with a big heart. One day when he was four years old, he saw me strug­gling to weed my garden beds. He ran into his garage, grabbed his garden tools, and came right back to lend a hand. He worked alongside me until it was time to go home. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

When Joe’s family moved away from my neighborhood, I really missed him. But I kept in touch with his mother, and mentioned to her that the bad spring weather had hindered many of my regular volunteer groups from being able to help us with our outdoor tasks this year.

The next thing I knew, I was getting a phone call from my special helper. He still needed to complete a few hours for his community service requirement for high school. And, he wanted to continue working even after his school requirement was met.

Joe has been a blessing this year. I can still see that sweet four-year-old in the eyes of this kind young high school graduate. I am certain that his caring heart will take him on a beautiful journey through life. Best wishes to you, Joe!

Make a donation

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Every donation helps us to keep our house open.

Donate to the Harbor House

Be a volunteer

All you need is love…It takes all different types of personalities, skills and gifts to run our house Share the love.

Sign Up to Volunteer

Adopt a Day

Adopt a Day to honor, celebrate or remember a special person and become part of our Harbor House family.

Pick Your Day

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