Michael PlaztzMicheal Platz, the new director of Haywood Street Respite, said it’s all about relationships.

His challenge, he said, is to coordinate a diverse collection of things. “I’m not here to change anyone. I’m here to care for people – and I hope that somewhere along the way we make a difference.”

Respite, Platz said, “offers a place to be for a short time, a place to heal. That, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing.”

Platz, after getting a degree in psychology at Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, went to A-B Tech for his nursing degree. He’s worked in group homes for children, and sheltered workshops for children and adults more than 25 years. He came to Haywood Respite from Hospice – first as a volunteer.

Hospice is not the sad gig some people might think. “To be a part of someone’s journey into life or into death is a special opportunity,” he said. Platz restores himself by gardening or hiking.

Life is not always kind to some of those coming through Respite’s doors, but Platz tries to set an example of what life can be “ through the love and support we offer each other.”

This attitude, he said, is a reflection of his family and friends, beginning in Williamsburg, Va., where he grew up.

Respite can care for up to eight people for one to two weeks, but “one size doesn’t fit all,” Platz interjected. Sometimes it is people who became ill living no place in particular, or it may be people coming out of the hospital who need time to heal and have no one to see to their needs and feed them before they return to their homes.

People who love to cook are always welcomed as volunteers. Bring a meal one night – or, better, one night a month, sit at the table and share it with the residents. Residents prepare their own breakfast and lunch from food provided by gifts to Haywood Street’s budget. And sometimes there’s a delicious-looking platter of baked goods or some such from a local restaurant for a little sugar-high.