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Series of events to help center for terminally ill set

Date: 2/22/2013

By Lori Szepelak

CHICOPEE — Husband and wife team Viet Nguyen and Tiffany Doan believe wholeheartedly in giving back to the community and will open their shop, Cosmo Cut & Style Salon, to benefit Harmony House on March 3.

The Cut-A-Thon is planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the salon at 1890 Memorial Dr., which will feature haircuts for $10 with all proceeds to benefit the future home of Harmony House.

Harmony House was established during the past several years under the direction of Ruth Willemain of Holyoke, who seeks to create a home for the terminally ill. Her vision is "a home, a hope, a unique approach for the compassionate care of the terminally ill," she said during an interview with Reminder Publications.

"A client of ours told us about Harmony House and we knew we wanted to help out," Nguyen said on the afternoon of Feb. 12 while he was styling a client's hair. "We have supported causes including the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, and welcome the opportunity to help Harmony House."

The Cut-A-Thon is one of several fundraisers slated in the coming months to raise funds for Harmony House which still needs a home to call its own.

"We met with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse earlier today and the prospect of acquiring a single-family home in the city may be within our reach," Diane Santos, president of the organization, said.

Santos, of Springfield, explained that with houses under foreclosure or auction, acquiring a home "seems promising."

"We have volunteers who are contractors who could help us remodel," said Santos. "We would expect to do renovations."

Santos is particularly passionate about Harmony House since her mother and sister passed away more than 13 years ago and used hospice in their final days.

"Hospice people are amazing," she said, noting she has since become a hospice volunteer. "I knew at some point in my life I would give back and now I know I've found my calling."

Santos also noted that there are a variety of ways area residents can also get involved with Harmony House.

"We have opportunities to partner with Harmony House, by joining the board of directors or a committee, or becoming a volunteer," she said.

When Harmony House does become a reality, Willemain noted that all care and activities will be supervised by trained professionals. Services that will be provided will include pain management and physical care, as well as physical, emotional and spiritual support.

"Our ideal facility will be designed to provide 24-hour personal care for up to 10 individuals," Willemain said.

In addition to the Cut-A-Thon, Santos noted there are several fundraisers also planned to raise funds for Harmony House this spring, including:

•April 6, A Day of Scrapbooking, at the Church of the New Covenant, 938 Chicopee St. For more information, call Jeanne at 592-7889.

•April 12, Sixth Annual Harmony House Spaghetti Dinner, Moose Lodge, 244 Fuller Road, starting at 6:30 p.m. Raffles and a bake sale are also planned. For tickets, call Jeanne at 592-7889 or email Diane at Tickets are $10 for adults and $4 for children age 10 and younger.

•May 11, Craft Fair at the Church of the New Covenant, 938 Chicopee St. Raffles and a bake sale are also planned. Crafters interested in participating are asked to call Diane at 297-0242 or email her at

•May 18, Tag Sale at Knights of Columbus, 460 Granby Road. Persons interested in renting space to sell their wares are asked to call Diane at 297-0242 or email her at Hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn and drinks will also be available for sale.

To stay abreast of the latest fundraisers and plans for Harmony House, visit Harmony House is a 501 (c) 3 corporation. Tax-deductible donations are also welcomed.