Heather McHugh is a poet from Seattle in the United States. The MacArthur Foundation decided that Heather was worthy of one of their ‘genius grants’ – an unrestricted prize of $600,000 that allows the recipient to do whatever they want with their winnings.
Appalled at the idea of spending so much money on herself, Heather decided to use her winnings to benefit others.
So, she started the nonprofit called Caregifted after being inspired by her godson and his wife, who had a full time job raising their child with severe disabilities.
“I can see how hard some lives are and how much they deserve tribute. They do it for their families, they do it our of love, but what they do benefits everybody and nobody’s thinking about it. Nobody’s waving thank you at them.”
After watching her family struggle with the realities of caring for children with disabilities, Heather realised that every once in a while, these people would need a break.
Caregifted was then put in place to provide holidays to carers who have spent a decade or more taking care of a family member or other, full time.
“Full-time caregivers of the most severely disabled have sacrificed their own leisure, resources and ambitions to serve those unable to serve themselves. Such acts of love go largely unnoticed because these caregivers are generally confined to their homes, mired in unpaid labour.”
With a new report launched by Carers Australia, revealing that carers provide $60.3 billion worth of unpaid care every year, their importance has never been so integral to the health and wellbeing of those they care for.
“Caregifted offers weeks away in inspiring locations—scenic vacation spots where caregivers can refresh their perspectives and record their views in words and images, returning home better rested and represented.”
These incredible humans spend their entire lives caring for others and are often forgotten about by society. Their commitment, love and selflessness often goes unrewarded and unacknowledged so it is incredibly important that initiatives like this provide solace for the people who need it the most.
So far, Caregifted has provided over 30 loving families with much needed holidays.