The Story Behind Velma’s Guest House… a Journey

The idea for Velma’s Guest House was an impulse born from a spirit of generosity. Everyone questioned my sanity when I announced I was buying a house to share with total strangers. But I felt compelled to share Denver and particularly this neighborhood that I love, and, through that sharing enrich the lives of those who come briefly to make this house their home and also to enrich the neighborhood, community at large and ultimately the global community we all share.

My mother had recently transitioned from life to whatever lies beyond, and I had been blessed to be with her and care for her in her last days. For me it was a life altering process filled with emotional extremes and moments of humor. I was able to be fully present to my mother’s transition because of the extraordinary gifts of kindness and nurturing from total strangers.

The next forty-five or so evenings after my mother’s passing, were spent in the quiet of her apartment without any distractions slowly going through her things and boxing everything up. Some evenings I did no packing and just sat with the memories. It was a very healing and therapeutic time.

On one of those evenings, as I was leaving my home, I noticed the house 2 doors down from me had gone on the market. Out of curiosity, I grabbed a flyer to see what these little bungalows were going for these days. Whoa! What a shock! Picked myself up off the ground, put the flyer back, continued on to my mother’s all the while shaking my head and thinking, “What idiot would pay that much for such a tiny house?” My subconscious played with that thought and within a week, it came to me… I was that idiot.

It occurred to me, that with National Jewish Hospital so close (4 blocks away), there would be families coming for treatment who would be in a state of stress. What if I could lessen the stress by providing a sense of home while they were here? Not like a sterile hotel room with the art work anchored into the walls, but a genuine “home away from home” where guests felt welcomed and special. Plush towels, nice sheets, real art and all the accessories needed when traveling with the very young. Not only would it be great for guests but I would potentially get to meet people from all over the world and if I ever did retire I would have the rental just
2 doors away… I would have this “hobby” that would give me a little income, a sense of urpose, keep me occupied and always meeting new people… all those things that can easily disappear from one’s life in retirement. I let the fantasy roll around in my head having great fun with it until faced with the reality of actually doing it.
That was terrifying. Even more so because at the time, I had just started reading Jane Pauley’s book in which the impulse buy of a home for her mother led to her diagnosis of bi-Polar disorder. After confirmation from a close and trusted friend (actually, my boss) that I was not having a break from reality, I bought the house on May 27, 2005.

Both friends and professionals questioned my judgement. Are you sure you will be able to rent the house? And as a short-term rental? In the resorts, yes, but Denver? Who comes to Denver? And, you’ve got to be kidding, you are going to put nice things inside this house and not lock up anything? But, I had a vision…a vision of my guest house as a contribution…a way to make a difference.

More to come…

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