‘Generous’ donations open doors for cancer patients, caregivers


WESTFIELD-Thanks to two “very generous” donations to the Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center, there are opportunities for area residents to experience free respite stays.

“The donor said to use the funds at my discretion,” said Sr. Elizabeth Oleksak, SP, foundress and spiritual director at Genesis. “I feel so honored that the donor has given two very generous donations over the past two years which blends right into our mission statement of hope and healing.”

One of the guest rooms at the Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Oleksak chose to use the funds to offer free stays for individuals, whether living with cancer, in remission from cancer, or people caring for loved ones or family members with cancer.

“People design their own stay,” said Elizabeth Walz, ASP, executive director at Genesis, adding that the visit can include an oncology massage with Jean Risk, LMT, and/or a spiritual direction session or BioSpiritual Focusing session, or an appointment with Genesis’ in-house yoga therapist, Megan Elliott, E-RYT, C-IAYT.

“Some folks take advantage to catch up on rest, or grieving, or reflecting and journaling – or doing artwork – about their process,” said Walz.

Oleksak shared a similar sentiment.

“I usually talk to the person initially after the inquiry since everyone has a remarkable story to tell,” said Oleksak, who is also a breast cancer survivor. “I have had seven people in my immediate family with cancer so I’ve had a lot of experience with cancer in my family.”

Visiting the Fireplace Room is a nice way to relax at the end of a day at the Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The respite stays, which includes lodging and meals, can be for one or two nights from Monday through Thursday, with check in after lunch and check out before lunch.

“Folks could have a dining room to themselves if they are worried about immunity and the virus,” said Walz. “We are diligent with masking, distancing, and sanitizing.”

Walz added that staff members ensure that every visitor has “plenty of spaciousness” during their time on the grounds at 53 Mill St.

The funds donated are expected to accommodate at least 10 area residents visiting the center.

Since there are multiple ways that a stay can be used, Genesis staff members track each person’s amenities used and then deduct that amount from the overall anonymous donation.

Hearty breakfast offerings are available for guests at the Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

During a stay, visitors can also enjoy walking the spacious, meditative grounds, spending quiet time in the chapel, and exploring the art and meditation spaces.

For more information on the respite stays, call the office at (413) 562-3627.

Visitors to Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center have a variety of amenities to enjoy – including an elaborate art space. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

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