Speed Reads

There's that faith in humanity

MacArthur grant-winner uses her $500,000 award to send dedicated caregivers on vacation

What do you do when you're suddenly awarded half a million dollars? Seattle poet Heather McHugh toyed with that question for two years after winning the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2009.

The money comes with no strings attached, but McHugh knew she didn't want to spend it on herself.

"Nobody deserves that kind of money, and I think something in me was chastened by being awarded such a big amount of money," she told Seattle's KPLU.

But she finally found her inspiration after her loved ones gave birth to a baby with severe disabilities.

"It was obvious to me when that baby was born that in 10 years, they were going to need a break," she said.

So McHugh started a nonprofit called Caregifted, which sends people who have spent a decade or more taking care of a family member full-time on vacation.

McHugh will often accompany her guests — traveling to Maine, Napa Valley, and more — acting as a concierge, taking care of their every need for a change. But more often than not, these caregivers ask for very little — to go on a walk or to read a book.

To learn more about Caregifted and to listen to the full story go to KPLU.