Beacon Newsletter- Winter 2021

Posted - February 8, 2021

First Annual Appeal Turns Out to Be a Resounding Success!

As the war against the virus raged on through the spring and summer, it became obvious that we wouldn’t be able to hold our annual “And the BEAT goes on…” fundraiser. We usually raise a good percentage of our annual budget at this event, so we had to come up with a different plan. We decided that the most straight forward and safest way to raise the much-needed funds would be to tell our supporters about our difficulty and simply ask for help.

First, we set a goal for what we hoped to raise through the appeal. It was less than what we would have expected from an in-person fundraiser, but we all felt that if we could reach this goal, we’d be able to weather the storm. Then we sent out a letter to all of our supporters at the beginning of October. By the end of 2020, we had not only reached the goal we had set, but surpassed it.

How did this happen? That’s simple—our Harbor House family all came together and, just like our House initially got on its feet, bit by bit and piece by piece, we managed to surpass our smaller goal and meet the goal we normally use when planning this event.

On so many occasions, I went outside to the mailbox and had to fight back tears of gratitude because of the people who had responded and sent us financial gifts. Many of them were past guests. Volunteers and other loyal supporters also contributed. And our corporate sponsors did not shy away from participating, even though they they knew that they would receive less exposure than at an in-person event. Many of them increased their gift, and a few actually doubled their last year’s donation.

This outpouring of support renewed my faith in our mission and in all those who help us bring it about. I have been surrounded each day by goodness and love because of you—our amazing Harbor House family.

Although the words “Thank You” are short and sweet, please know that they come from the bottom of the hearts of the entire staff and board of the Harbor House. We could not begin to do this work without your help!

Thoughts from a Harbor House Guest

by Erin W.

The mission of the Harbor House is to provide a “home-away-from-home” for caregivers while their loved ones receive treatment at Strong Memorial, and that was exactly the experience I had over the past few months. My holiday season was not one of sadness and loneliness but of support and love. Due to visitor restrictions I was not able to be at my husband’s bedside during his stay, but because of Harbor House I was able to provide him with freshly prepared home-cooked meals, clean clothes, and care packages to keep him entertained.

Joan & Mary’s heartfelt concern provided enough mental
hugs to get me through an incredibly challenging time in my life. I feel so lucky to be part of the “Harbor House Family.”

Sippin’ on the Sofa – Virtual Tasting Series

Are you stuck inside with nothing to do? Have you watched every Netflix series and old movie that you can stand to see? Are you “arts and crafted” out? Never fear! We have just the thing for you. Let Harbor House brighten up your February and March with a series of fun, tasty, and educational virtual events that we call “Sippin’ on Sippin’ on the Sofa – Virtual Tasting Series the Sofa.” You’ll learn how various beverages are made, why the ingredients grow in the regions they do, and how to make tasty mixed drinks, all while you relax on your sofa. Jammies encouraged!

The first event of the series took place on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, when we were treated to some delicious wine from Point of the Bluff Vineyards in Hammondsport, near Keuka Lake. Each wine we tasted was paired with a specific kind of chocolate from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, creating a taste bud explosion.

Ingredients delivered curbside!

Our next event will be hosted by Rochester’s premium local distillery, Black Button Distilling, on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 6:00 pm. You will learn the background and history of Black Button and how to make the “Lighthouse,” a drink named in honor of the Harbor House. Participants will get Bourbon Cream, mixer and a shaker, along with some awesome swag!

And on March 24, 2021 at 6:00 pm, come enjoy a delightful evening with “little Lake Brewing Company,” located in Lakeville, NY. Cuddle up with a cup of little Lake’s coffee while the owner walks us through the perfect brew style and shows us how to make the best cup of coffee every time. You will also learn the history and background of little Lake Brewing. Ticket holders will receive two half-pound bags of freshly ground coffee (choose between regular or decaf), a coffee mug, a tasty snack and some cool swag. Mark your calendars now.

For tickets, go to:

Welcome to Our Newest Board Member

Anu Godishala, MD

We are very excited to introduce our newest board member, Dr. Anu Godishala. She is a cardiologist who started working at URMC in the summer of 2020. The first time I heard her name was when she sent us a donation. She explained to me that it has been her tradition to find a charity she’s interested in when she first moves to a new city. She gives that organization a donation as a way for her to celebrate her new position and to recognize the good work of the charity. That was all I needed to know to realize what a kind, sweet and thoughtful person had just moved to our city. I was thrilled to find out that she was so interested in our cause that she was willing to serve on our board of directors.

Dr. Godishala is no stranger to the Finger Lakes Region because she grew up in Auburn, NY. She went to medical school in Buffalo, where she met her husband. They are both excited to be returning to this area, and Dr. Godishala is especially happy to be in Rochester. A major motivation for her moving back to the region was to have the opportunity to provide excellent medical care for a community she loves.

She is passionate about the mission of the Harbor House, understanding that the cost of travel and accommodations can be a big obstacle to patients in need of specialized care. I’m certain that her leadership, enthusiasm for our cause and professional expertise are going to serve her well as the newest member of the Harbor House board of directors.

We welcome Dr. Godishala to our Harbor House Family with open arms and virtual hugs. We look forward to working with her to help ease the burden on families as they navigate through a difficult time in their lives.

Amazon Gift Card Winner Announced

You may remember that there was a piece in our fall newsletter asking our supporters to consider sending in their email addresses to receive our newsletters digitally instead of through the US postal service. This request had a two-fold purpose: to enable us to become “greener,” and also to help us save on printing costs and postage. As an incentive to our readers to participate in this plan, we wrote that we would raffle off a $50 Amazon Gift Card from among the names of those willing to to receive correspondence from us via email.

We did hold the raffle, and now congratulations go out to Kitty Colliflower, who won the gift card. Thank you, Kitty, for being willing to help us, and many thanks also to all the rest of you who responded to our request.

Don’t worry, it’s not too late to change your newsletter delivery preference. Those of you still receiving paper copies of our newsletter who are willing to go digital, please email us at:, and simply write “Opt In” as the subject line of your email. We’ll update our list accordingly, and you’ll be among the first of our friends to receive our news!

We Miss You!

It was great to see some of you when we delivered the goods for our first “Sippin’ on the Sofa” event (see page 2). We’re looking forward to seeing many of you again as soon as it’s safe to do so. We miss our friends and supporters! Thank you for continuing to think of us as we serve our guests with their safety in mind.

(Left-Right) Joan, Amy, Scott A., Scott H.

Volunteer in the Spotlight:

Norm Breen

Norman Breen has been an active member of Harbor House since its inception. He’s helped with every fundraiser and has done most of our printing: newsletters, event programs, brochures, posters, envelopes and just about anything else that we needed. On the few occasions that he charged us for a print job, it was always for a price so low that it was obvious he had to be supplementing the cost of printing himself.

Norm Breen

Norm has supported us in other ways too. He is rather famous for his “BJ’s runs,” filling his van with all sorts of supplies for the House and simply ringing the bell to let me know he’s arrived with a delivery. He and his wife Phyllis are always ready to help with a holiday meal, providing items for our feasts every year, even turkeys!

I’ve come to rely on Norm for his vast experience. (I may even be partly responsible for his thinning hair—sorry, Norm!) I fondly refer to him as my “big brother” because he’s always been a dependable and caring presence and someone I treasure.

Now that you have decided to retire, Norm, please know that we can never thank you enough for your generosity and devotion to our cause. We wish you and your beautiful wife Phyllis much happiness and good health.

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

The Beacon Newsletter

Enter your email address below to recieve our monthly newsletter.