Welcome to ABODE

ABODE provides a welcoming, peaceful home and unconditional loving care to our guests through the compassionate service of our community and volunteers.

Our Vision

Dying is a sacred time of life. Love, compassion, and a home matter to all who are dying; those whom we honor and from whom we learn. We serve the community as an educational resource in the art of contemplative living and dying.
Press Releases

Abode — a special home for the dying in San Antonio

By Carol Baass Sowa

Today's Catholic

SAN ANTONIO • A San Antonio father with teenage children is near death from cancer. His wife is supporting the family with her job and her employment benefits will cover his hospice care, but hospice requires the presence of a caregiver, which the family cannot afford. Nor can the wife afford to quit her job to look after him full-time. Where do they turn in a situation like this? In about six months they will have Abode.

Abode, a new non-profit, interfaith ministry created to provide contemplative care for the dying, is preparing to break ground on a special house where those in the last few weeks or months of life can receive visits from family and hospice care in a home-like atmosphere. Funded by grants and donations, there will be no charge to those availing themselves of this service.

"Whatever hospice agency they choose will come into the (Abode) home and do the medical and the palliative care," says Liz Newhouse, a cofounder and board member of Abode. "We will have trained volunteers and a small staff to do the personal care and work with the families and also be an educational resource in the community about contemplative living and dying."

"We believe that dying is a natural process of life," says Patsy Sasek, also a cofounder and board member. Abode's philosophy is the same as that of hospice care, she explains, based on the original hospices of the Middle Ages, where convents and monasteries took in pilgrims who became too ill to travel farther. "They would receive the very best care," she adds, "because the nuns and the brothers and fathers knew that they were as close to heaven as you could get, so they treated them with great care and love. And that's what we're basing our home, Abode, on."

The idea for such a home in San Antonio came from Patsy's husband, Edwin Sasek, and was something he had long dreamed of doing. A hospice chaplain, he had attended the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Hospice Institute in New Mexico and later seen a fellow student there open a home similar to Abode in Michigan, the Toni and Trish House."It's a home that cares for three people at a time in the last three months of their life," explains Sasek, "and there is no cost to those who stay there."

Newhouse and Edwin Sasek visited the Toni and Trish House in Michigan, which has a number of these homes, to see it in operation. "I'd been immersed in the concept for three years," says Newhouse, "and yet, when I walked into the home, I was overwhelmed — the love and the care and the naturalness of it." Some of the residents (they are referred to as "guests") were up and about and ate with them in the dining room, she recalls. There was always a pot of soup cooking in the kitchen and volunteers coming in to do baking. Especially impressive were the many volunteers, ranging in age from young college students to elderly retirees, who came by to do whatever was needed.

"We've spent about three years putting down our roots," says Newhouse. "We wanted to be very careful about moving slowly enough that we had very solid policies and procedures, a board that was functioning and best practices in everything we do, so it's taken us several years."

During that time, Abode has enlisted an impressive roster of donors, advisers and helpers to help get it off the ground. They have also been the recipient of grants — some of which were unsolicited. "We have been blessed by the generosity of this community," Newhouse notes.

It took almost a year of house-hunting for them to find the right property for the Abode home, armed with a $150,000 donation, and when they saw the ranch-style house on a near-acre tract studded with heritage oaks and just off northeast Loop 410 at 8619 Post Oak Lane, they collectively said: "This is it!" Even better, the home's price was several thousand below their budgeted amount.

In addition to the peaceful, homelike atmosphere they sought, the property met the requirements of being centrally located and near a bus line for ease of access by the 60 to 80 volunteers Abode hopes to enlist. Some will help with house and yard work — mowing the lawn, cleaning, doing laundry; others will sit and keep the residents company. "There are so many different ways you could become involved," notes Newhouse, "and we will train the volunteers."

The original plan was to remodel the house, but they soon learned this would not be feasible with all the retrofitting required, and in early August the old house was razed (with none of the trees lost) to make room for what will be a new 2,900-square-foot one with three handicapped-accessible bedrooms with bathrooms.

Pointing to the house plans by Luna Architecture + Design, Sasek notes, "All the guest rooms face the yard and there is a covered patio where the families can go out and sit and a quiet room — or it could be a chapel." There is also a courtyard with garden and fountain, a family room, dining room, kitchen and small library or study. "It will be a beautiful environment," she says. "It's very tranquil and the trees are gorgeous."

Newhouse explains that Abode will meet the gap in services for people who cannot afford a nursing home as their loved one nears death and who need a place offering more than a seven-day maximum stay in a hospice in-patient facility.

"There are Medicaid beds in some nursing homes," she notes, "but it would be very impersonal if someone didn't have their own family." Persons who do not qualify for Medicare benefits, single persons without families and the homeless are among those whom Abode could also serve.

Those with the greatest need will receive priority, as far as being accepted as guests and, based on experience at similar homes, it is anticipated up to 70 persons could be served yearly. "Everybody will be welcome," says Newhouse, "and we will try to meet their needs in every way — from diet to personal care to any type of religious affiliation coming in and working with them. We will accept them where they are and be there to listen and walk the journey with them."

For people in this country, there is often a disconnect or fear of talking about death, says Newhouse, and Abode's goal is "to show visibly how people can die gently and with a loving group around them, including their family."

The ministry also seeks to increase awareness about the blessings of the life cycle we are all a part of, making what Sasek calls "that beautiful time of passing" a better experience for all involved.

"We've had a big outpouring of support and help from people," says Sasek, "and it seems like those we need just appear at the right time." More help is needed though. A building campaign is underway, with construction commencing once the necessary funding goal is met.

In the upcoming months, Abode will also be hiring an executive director and begin training volunteers.

In September, they will be hosting a contemplative art month with ¡Viva! Bookstore featuring events involving the visual arts, writing, yoga and more.

Persons interested in more information are asked to contact Abode at (210) 967-9891 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Information is also available on their website, www.abodehome.org, and a representative from Abode will be happy to come to your church or organization to give a presentation.

"We're very thankful for everything that has been given to us," says Newhouse, as the Abode home comes closer to being a reality. "It's a wonderful thing to experience that people would have this much faith in what we are doing."

Adds Sasek: "I think when God is in on it, everything seems to fall into place."

Published in Today's Catholic, August 23, 2013. http://www.satodayscatholic.com/page5095185944.aspx

 

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      •  8619 Post Oak Ln
        San Antonio, Texas 78217
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      •  (210) 967-9891
      •  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
      •  P.O. Box 47640
        San Antonio, TX 78265