Summit County: Domus Pacis Family Respite seeks volunteers, rental homes |

Summit County: Domus Pacis Family Respite seeks volunteers, rental homes

summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Kay Beaton

SUMMIT COUNTY – Cancer. It can pull families together and tear bodies apart. And a local woman – Duck White-Petteruti – is making peaceful healing possible through volunteers, donations and good deeds.

She started Domus Pacis Family Respite – or “house of peace” in Latin – with her husband, Vince, last summer. Their goal is to host families for a week at a time, enabling them to rest, have fun and bond while vacationing in donated Summit County homes.

“What a gift to give people these memories,” White-Petteruti said. “It’s not just the families, it’s the people in Summit County who are so touched by it.”

In the year since the Domus Pacis started, it’s hosted 11 families and has 27 people on its waiting list.

Financial issues and the psychological stress associated with serious illness make is difficult for families to get away, White-Petteruti said. Her vision is to use vacant vacation homes during off-season rental periods.

“We’re short on homes now,” said White-Petteruti, noting that demand is increasing as the organization builds a name for itself. She only has enough housing for 23 weeks right now, and the need for homes grows every week.

Maureen Hanrahan, a Denver resident with a condo in Frisco, said she was extremely excited about involving herself with Domus Pacis “because I’m in health care and I understand the concept.”

She also noted that Domus Pacis is good about using rentals only when there’s not much rental demand. Visitors are very respectful, and the nonprofit pays for cleaning after they’re gone.

“For it (her condo) to sit empty is a huge waste,” Hanrahan said. “I would rather share it in times when there isn’t as much activity.”

Domus Pacis is also seeking service donations, such as coupons to restaurants and grocery stores, horseback riding, boats, water taxis, massages and tours of historic sites to make vacations remarkable.

“We’re not actually asking people to go into their pockets,” she said, adding that volunteers can do something as simple as make banana nut bread.

And numerous Domus Pacis volunteers said they find their work with White-Petteruti gratifying and special.

“There are just so many things that people could volunteer,” said Margery Nemura, a local woman who bakes, cooks and procures services for Domus Pacis visitors. “Because they’re here to rest – their lives are filled with stress – to sit and not really do anything is great.”

Nemura suggested donating tickets to plays and concerts, or providing bicycles for the families.

Chriss Cowan, the owner of Qi Gong Institute of Summit County in Frisco, offers her own services and recruits others to help, making goody baskets with items donated from all over the county.

“During my husband’s illness, had something like this been available, it just would have been great,” Cowan said, noting that her husband passed away from cancer. “To be able to provide this for someone else is very cool.”

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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