Leaving a Legacy

Dick and Meg LaBrie learned a lot from their respective parents. One lesson they learned was the value of a retirement community that offers multiple levels of care. It’s part of what brought them to Attic Angels’ Prairie Point, where they have lived happily since 2017.

Meg is from Pepin, WI, where her mother eventually ended up in a small local nursing home toward the end of her life. It was a positive experience, even as her mom suffered from dementia.

“My mom was a feisty schoolteacher,” Meg says. “The staff there encouraged her personality and appreciated her sense of humor. The building was old, but the people made it a wonderful place.”

Dick’s mom was cared for in assisted living in the Stevens Point area where he grew up. To this day, he is still moved by a celebration the community threw for his mom’s 100th birthday. A staff member from the community spoke at his mom’s funeral service.

“The peace of mind we had from those experiences was important,” Dick remarks. “We were able to sleep at night knowing they were cared for.”

In some ways, they consider their recent gift to the Oakwood Foundation for the construction of the new Hebron Oaks to be payback for the care that was given to their mothers.

“People are living longer,” Dick says. “We need places like Oakwood. We don’t want to see a company from out of the area take the place of any of our great local organizations. We donated because we believe this is an important project that deserves our support. This is a need in the Madison area, and we feel Oakwood provides great care.”

“We’re inspired less by the building… more by the people who will be served.”

The new Hebron Oaks Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center will feature 60 one-bedroom suites, a new rehabilitation gym, and a bistro. In the new serenity room, residents can meet individually with an Oakwood Chaplain, gather with visitors outside of their suite, or simply find peace and quiet.

Resident suites will be private and nearly double the size of current Hebron Oaks suites, averaging approximately 450 square feet and consisting of spacious bathrooms and dedicated bedrooms and living areas, which are intended to better accommodate family and guests. Large windows will showcase trees and water retention ponds, and should enhance the healing process for those recovering from surgery or a health incident. Green roofs, common outdoor patio areas, and beautiful landscaping will add to the aesthetics.

A number of suites will be designed to serve the bariatric population and will be even larger than the standard suites in order to accommodate lifts and other equipment.

The new palliative care wing will offer dedicated programming and care to ensure Oakwood residents and other members of the community receive appropriate and compassionate support at the end of life.

The LaBries believe Madison is lucky to have several high-quality retirement communities. While timing and a beautiful condo led them to Prairie Point, they were on the waiting list of both Oakwood and Capitol Lakes.

What really matters is that we want to see this happen for Oakwood.

Dick and Meg became familiar with Oakwood as association church delegates from Peace Lutheran Church in Waunakee. In fact, Dick served as a volunteer for several years in the Tabor Oaks Oakleaf Shop in the 1990s. He says he found many conversations with residents on quiet Saturday afternoons thought provoking and inspiring.

The LaBries explain that being familiar with the history of Hebron Oaks makes them excited to be a part of this new project.

“When we received the mailing for support, it really spoke to us,” Dick shares. “We knew [Oakwood Foundation Executive Director] Keith VanLanduyt from when we were on the Oakwood waiting list, and always found him considerate and respectful. The appeal wasn’t pushy, and it stated a clear need.”

Dick and Meg also appreciate the strong role that faith plays at Oakwood. Much of their gift was designated toward the planned serenity room in Hebron Oaks. The opportunity to support Oakwood’s Religion and Pastoral Care program appealed to them.

“We like the idea of a place where people can go where it’s quiet; to reflect,” Dick states. “We didn’t have that where our moms were.”

Not only did their parents teach them the value of communities like Oakwood; Dick and Meg both grew up understanding the importance of helping others. They explain that their parents inspired them to be philanthropic, and while growing up, their families couldn’t always contribute financially to organizations. Instead they gave their time.

“My parents didn’t have a lot of money,” Dick says. “But they gave however they could; oftentimes by volunteering.”

They are glad to be in the position today to establish their own legacy of philanthropy.

“We gave this gift gratefully,” Dick explains. “We are grateful for the work of Oakwood and that we are able to help. For us, leaving a legacy is important. We hope that this may inspire others to give as well.”

“What really matters,” Meg says, “is that we want to see this happen for Oakwood.”

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