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Omaha Magazine

It's Never Too Late to Dream: Dreamweaver Provides Unforgettable Experiences for Families

Nov 28, 2022 08:15AM ● By Sara Locke

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Western society so frequently airbrushes old age that it’s easy to overlook that everyone—grandparents, parents, and eventually, oneself—must face the decision of how to spend their twilight years. For those lucky enough to make it into advanced age, their children and grandchildren often take on the daily care of a loved one, or the elderly move into in a facility where 24/7 care is available. 

Paul and Lori Hogan saw the need for another option—for people who desire the independence and autonomy of home living. They founded Home Instead in 1994 to offer help for adults to age in place with the support of knowledgeable and compassionate care professionals. The Hogan’s daughter, Lakelyn Eichenberger, followed her parents’ lead, earned her doctorate, and became a gerontologist. Today, she’s a care advocate with Home Instead, the national team coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, and president of the board of directors of Dreamweaver Foundation. 

“My grandmother had 12 kids rally around and keep her home,” Eichenberger recalled. “My parents thought, what do other families do? Deep down, people want to provide that hands-on care for their aging loved ones. But not everyone has the capacity to do so. Home Instead comes alongside families to provide where they cannot. So much of our work isn’t the transportation or the tasks on our list. It’s companionship. It’s reducing the isolation and loneliness that’s been described as an epidemic among the elderly.

“That’s why I’m so passionate about Dreamweaver,” Eichenberger continued. “It aligns so well with my personal passions and brings so much joy.”

Dreamweaver is a nonprofit organization founded by Carson Wealth’s Ron and Jeanie Carson. The foundation facilitates and documents unforgettable experiences for the elderly and 
their families, many of whom live on fixed incomes and may find hosting family get-togethers unaffordable.

The first dream that got me hooked,” Eichenberger recalled, “...her name was Poppy. She just wanted to see her family. There was some estrangement, some hard feelings, and heartbreak. But it was around Thanksgiving, and we knew we could put it all together.”

But it’s not just about showing up for a goodbye; it’s also about honoring and sharing an entire lifetime before those stories are gone. 

“We got to learn Poppy’s story and put it together in a book for her family. They got to learn about her achievements, even a Presidential award she’d received for her volunteer work. She just wanted to see her family, but they got to see her in a new light before [the opportunity] was gone.”

“Dreamweaver is such a giving organization,” said Becky Young, whose mother Ruth recently received a Dreamweaver experience. Ruth was struggling to adjust to dependent living at Sumner Place, a skilled nursing facility, and the care home’s dietician nominated Ruth to boost her spirits. “With no expectations of anything in return, they show up to serve the person receiving the dream, and they don’t miss a thing,” Young added.

Dreamweaver worked with Young to learn about a few of Ruth’s favorite things, and most of those things were family. “They brought us all together, even flying out family from Arizona.”
Ruth was picked up from Sumner Place in a luxury SUV, then brought to Venue Restaurant & Lounge in Lincoln for her favorite, a lasagna dinner. A professional photographer was on-site to capture the heartwarming moment, and a memory book was provided to both Ruth and her daughter, along with a thumb drive of every photo taken.

Dreamweaver Foundation has a unique knack for finding a way to bring each dream to fruition. A trip to Mall of America, a can’t-miss concert, or sourcing 100 letters for a 100th birthday. When dreamer Nancy wanted the stories she had always told her sister, Linda, to be preserved, the foundation spent over 100 hours transcribing notebooks, meticulously editing, and finally publishing and printing Short Stories for Linda, My Sister.

“The ripple effect these dreams can have on a family is really the coolest thing about it all,” Eichenberger concluded. “These families are leaving with memories, and then we see them coming back to volunteer because of what the experience meant to them.”

To nominate someone for a Dreamweaver experience or to donate and/or volunteer, visit Dreamweaver.org 

This article originally appeared in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  


Photo by Bill Sitzmann

 

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