caregivers screenshot CAREGIFTED

For two years, Heather McHugh held on to half-million dollars.

After being awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for her poetry, she just couldn’t decide what to do with the money.

That changed after her godson and his wife had a baby born with severe disabilities.

384px-HEATHER_MCHUGH_cc John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation
Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

McHugh decided to use the money to send full-time, unpaid caregivers—many of whom she’d never met—on week long vacations to British Columbia, Maine, and Napa Valley, California.

“It was obvious to me when that baby was born that in 10 years, they were going to need a break,” she told KPLU News, talking about her godson and his wife.

About 40 million exhausted Americans “need a break,” as McHugh put it, from the rigors of round the clock attention devoted to disabled relatives.

That’s why she set up CAREGIFTED, a foundation to provide vacations for caregivers and she often goes along to be a personal assistant for them and tend to their needs for a change.

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She says they will usually want simple things — like a walk by themselves or time to read a book — things taken for granted by most people. Full-time caregivers quickly learn that time, like their family, is precious.

(WATCH the video below) — Photo (top): CAREGIFTED

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