Board Chairperson Judith Allen Ferretti Establishes First-Ever Endowed Caregiver Grant Fund

| April 24, 2018 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

Caregiving and advancing the mission of Road Scholar are two issues Judith Allen Ferretti, Road Scholar’s Board Chairperson, feels strongly about.

Road Scholar Caregiver Grants

As a caregiver to her late mother, Helen Studley Dodd, Judy is familiar with the difficult decisions and situations caregivers face daily.  As a member of the Road Scholar volunteer Board of Directors, she has heard firsthand about the needs and challenges of Road Scholar participants who are caregivers for loved ones.

“I know that Road Scholar Caregiver Grants seem to open up a new part of life for caregivers, many of whom are so immersed in caregiving responsibilities,” Judy says.  “A Road Scholar grant provides caregivers the chance to step away and broaden their vision. It’s like experiencing spring after a long winter.”

With her mother’s memory in her heart, Judy has acted on her concern for family caregivers and generously funded the Helen Studley Dodd Caregiver Grant Fund, Road Scholar’s first endowed fund for caregiver grants.  Each year Road Scholar awards nearly 100 grants to eligible caregivers to help offset the cost of providing alternative care while taking some respite time to experience a Road Scholar learning adventure.

“My mother was also a caregiver — and she always cared about others,” Judy says. “My mother’s most challenging caregiving responsibility came during the 1955 polio epidemic when my 18-year-old brother contracted polio. He spent nine months in Children’s Hospital, initially in an iron lung because paralytic polio, the type he had, starts in the lowest part of the body and advances upward and we didn’t know whether he would lose his ability to breathe on his own.  My mother was his caregiver during the nine months he was in the hospital and for all the months after he returned home. While he regained his lung and arm capacity, he was paralyzed from the waist down for the remainder of his life. He worked tirelessly to become independent, and, as a result, lived a full and active life, going to Brown and Harvard and becoming the Chair of the English Department in his school system. I know my mother’s care made all of that possible.”

Helen Studley Dodd cared for people throughout her life.  When her second husband was diagnosed with cancer, she bravely took on the role of caregiver.  Helen also volunteered at a local veteran’s hospital and often invited injured veterans to dinner just to give them a “night out.”

“So, perhaps you can see why establishing a fund for Road Scholar Caregiver Grants seemed like the most meaningful way to remember my mother,” Judy noted.  

This caring nature is a trait Judy has in common with her mother.  When Judy retired from her career in educational administration several years ago, she found herself asking a timeless question: “What should I do now?”

Judy decided to devote her retirement to helping not-for-profit organizations dedicated to helping others. She sees Road Scholar as one of her favorite volunteer experiences.

“It has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life,” Judy says.  “The Road Scholar Board of Directors is high functioning and is one of the most enjoyable boards I have ever served on. I’m very grateful to work with such caring and dedicated board members and talented Road Scholar staff.

Judith FerrettiJudy discovered Road Scholar shortly before her retirement, when she and her husband, August, were invited by friends to join them on a Road Scholar program in California.  Judy and August have since attended 42 learning adventures with Road Scholar.

“Learning has always been important to us,” Judy says.  “That’s why we have always traveled on Road Scholar. There are great educational value, superb group leaders and interesting participants who are well-traveled, fully engaged and eager to learn and explore new places and cultures.”

Judy doesn’t have a favorite program — they’ve all been her favorite. “When people ask me — or August — about our favorite, 15 minutes later they are sorry they asked!” Judy says with a smile.  

The experiences Judy and August have shared on Road Scholar learning adventures have enriched and inspired them, and Judy’s service on the Road Scholar Board of Directors has been invaluable to the organization. Through the creation of the Helen Studley Dodd Caregiver Grant Fund, Judy is generously ensuring that other caregivers will enjoy the renewal and enrichment Road Scholar programs provide.

“I would be inspired if I were on a Road Scholar program and I had the opportunity to meet a caregiver who was there to enjoy a bit of time away from the full-time commitment of caring for a loved one,” Judy says. “I would know that, when the caregiver returned home, they would feel refreshed, rejuvenated and re-energized and, perhaps, would find it a little easier to resume those caregiving responsibilities.” 

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