Many people come to Summit County every year to relax and get away from it all. While most of these visitors simply want a respite from city crowds and the daily work schedule, the families brought in by Domus Pacis Family Respite have a lot more on their minds.
Since 2009, the local nonprofit has sponsored hundreds of cancer patients and their families on weeklong vacations in Summit County. Domus Pacis, which is Latin for “house of peace,” seeks to provide a chance for the families to relax and enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
“The impact of having a week to escape from wherever a family is in their cancer journey is immeasurable,” said Marylouise “Duck” White-Petteruti, co-founder of Domus Pacis, “and the warmth and love that has been given by the Summit community to folks from around Colorado, who have been through our program, it really lightens their burden.”
Domus Pacis works on a solely volunteer basis. The majority of services are volunteered and donated, from the homes the families stay in to the meals they eat and the activities they enjoy.
On Monday, the Elan-Life Spa in Silverthorne will host an event to raise money for Domus Pacis and its upcoming summer visitations. The spa, which opened in November last year, offers not only traditional pampering, like skin treatments and massages, but also health enhancements, like acupuncture, holistic nutrition and allergy elimination, among other services.
Colleen Meheen, owner and founder of Elan-Life Spa, said she felt that the principles behind her work aligned with those of Domus Pacis, so she approached them and offered to organize and host the Night of Health benefit.
“They’re local and they’re really about what we’re about,” Meheen said.
This is yet another example of the generosity of Summit County, White-Petteruti said.
“They came up with the idea,” she said. They reached out to us, saying, ‘We’re going to do this for you,’ and as you can imagine with any nonprofit, what a gift, not only to make it a benefit but also to organize it all.”
The spa will open its doors for the benefit on Monday at 4 p.m. Appetizers and wine will be available for free, and guests can take advantage of a number of health services. There will be a chair massage section, blood pressure check and practitioners on hand to answer questions about preventive health measures and their specialties.
Often, Domus Pacis will provide spa-related options and activities to the families during their visitation week, White-Petteruti said. She suggested that people may want to purchase spa gift certificates to donate to the program as well.
Last year, the program brought 75 families to Summit County. This year it’s aiming for at least that many. So far this year 30 families have visited, but summer is always a busy time, said Genia Gallagher, Domus Pacis program coordinator.
“We have the applications; it’s just finding the places to put them,” Gallagher said. Fortunately, she is confident that the community will make that happen. The Elan-Life Spa benefit is just one example of this.
“This was totally on their part, which is just, again, another sign of how giving this community is,” she said. “We’ve been here for about nine years now and I have never lived anywhere where people, whether it be the businesses or just people who live here, they’re just so giving.”
“It would be impossible to provide the gift of respite these families so need if it wasn’t through the generosity of the community,” she said.