One of Laramie’s holiday traditions is scheduled to include a chance to visit a new facility that will provide important services to the community when it opens in coming weeks.
The 2016 Holiday Home Tour — hosted by the University of Wyoming Women’s Club — allows participants the chance to walk through some of Laramie’s most notable homes. In addition to three other homes that will be open to visitors, Sunday’s tour includes the chance to see the newly constructed Hospice House of Laramie.
Many of the annual event’s participants — which average roughly 250-400 people — enjoy seeing old and new spaces, alike, said Tanna Nagy, Holiday Home Tour committee chair.
“It totally depends on what we’re bringing to the tour,” Nagy said.
This year’s tour features a home built in 1954 using stone from the University of Wyoming Quarry, a small town home featuring artwork made by the owner’s mother and a newly constructed home in Richards Park. While she thinks all the stops will be fascinating to visitors, she expects the Hospice House to be a big draw, Nagy said.
“It’s something the community wanted, so I really feel — and I’ve heard people talk about it — that people will definitely want to get out and see it,” she said. “It’s something that’s going to be here for a long time and the community definitely needs.”
With its doors opening soon, Terri Longhurst, executive director of the Hospice of Laramie, said she is anticipating people will need to occupy the facility immediately. As such, the Holiday Home Tour is likely the only chance for members of the public to have a look at the Hospice House before people in need of its service and their families occupy it.
“People often say, ‘We wish we would have gone into care sooner,’ and I know there’s a notion that you give up hope in hospice, but people can come in and see what it is, which is a peaceful transition into death where you’ll be in control,” she said. “A lot of people don’t want to think about what we will do until we’re at that phase — a lot of people don’t want to think about it — so, it’s nice to see (Hospice House) when you don’t have to think about it. You just know it’s there.”
Many people in any community will know someone who eventually needs hospice care, Longhurst said. The new Laramie facility features amenities that make it warm and inviting — much like a cozy home, she said. Having that service locally is important because it provides a comfortable environment for people in their transition to death and families a chance to spend time together without worrying about travel or other impediments, Longhurst said.
“This time of life shouldn’t be about worrying about your family driving over the hill,” she said. “We have a big family meeting room, you can reserve it and have a big party, use the kitchen, have a celebration and make memories — we want people to focus on that.”
Being on the Holiday Home Tour is a great opportunity for the Hospice House to show the community what it provides and allows people to see what many consider a vitally important service, Longhurst said. But whether or not people are actually interested in seeing the facility for their personal or familial considerations, she said it’s a fun chance to see another home in the community.
“Even if people just want to come see it, it’s just a house,” Longhurst said. “It’s a different kind of house, but it’s just a home.”
The event is scheduled from noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 and are available at Ace Hardware, 611 Grand Ave., and at Hospice House of Laramie, 1754 Centennial Drive. Participants can also purchase tickets at any of the tour’s homes, 2120 Holliday Drive; 4435 Stetson Court; and 2713 Dover Drive.
Each year, the University Women’s Club puts all proceeds toward annual UW scholarships to assist nontraditional women students. The Holiday Home Tour is the club’s main fundraising event and supports an important cause in benefitting students who often lack the necessary resources, Nagy said.
“I think that’s a group of individuals that need help, and that’s why the Women’s Club was created: To empower women,” she said.