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A Handshake and a Deal of a Lifetime

Just imagine how it would feel to walk into the showroom of the state’s largest Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge Ram dealership, pick out a truck and, during the payment process, find out you got it for free.

Paul Sirois, chief operating officer of Regional Hospice and Home Care, described the scenario as incredible, and at the time, questioned his perception of the transaction.

In late May, Paul Garavel, president of Garavel Motors, invited Sirois and a mutual friend, Joe Walkovich, to visit Garavel’s showroom, Garavel Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge Ram in Norwalk. “Paul Garavel and his staff could not have been more helpful or accommodating, but there was never a feeling that they were orchestrating this unbelievable gift on our behalf,” said Sirois.

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Paul Sirois, far right, Regional Hospice and Home Care chief operating officer, is still beaming as the Dodge Ram 1500 donated by Paul Garavel, second from left, president of Garavel Motors, gets a new home at the Center for Comfort Care & Healing in Danbury. From left to right: Former State Representative Joe Walkovich, Paul Garavel, Regional Hospice and Home Care President and CEO Cynthia E. Roy, and Paul Sirois.

As Sirois sat down to sign papers to purchase a $42,000 Dodge Ram 1500 for the hospice, he was told by staff that it was all taken care of. Sirois didn’t quite understand what “taken care of” meant in this case until Christine Carey, the finance manager of the dealership, explained. “It’s a gift to Regional Hospice,” she said.  “I was told to shake your hand; you’re all set.”

Since the opening of Regional Hospice and Home Care’s specialty hospital providing 24-hour end-of-life care — the Center for Comfort Care and Healing in Danbury — the agency has needed the ability to shuttle critical staff back and forth during severely inclement weather and have a service vehicle available for maintenance of new building and its grounds.

Paul Garavel of Redding is a former state representative and Danbury native who has been committed to fighting breast cancer and making support programs available to patients battling the disease. As a major sponsor of St. Vincent’s Swim Across the Sound’s Sunset Sail, Garavel has also been known to donate a vehicle to a family coping with tragedy.

When Sirois visited Garavel’s dealership, he was hoping for a good deal to keep additional costs in check at the nonprofit hospice and bereavement agency.  Unknown to him at the time was that Garavel also had a heartfelt connection to Regional Hospice and Home Care. Garavel’s mother Phyllis, who died in 2008, was a longtime Regional Hospice Danbury Chapter volunteer. Garavel’s younger sister, Lisa Terry of Danbury, had been in hospice care before losing her seven-year battle with breast cancer as a young mother of three in 1999.

“Truly compassionate people respond with generosity and gratitude — they make the work we do for families possible,” said Regional Hospice and Home Care President and CEO Cynthia E. Roy. “Regional Hospice and Home Care is tremendously blessed that Paul Garavel is one of those extraordinary people!”

Garavel has since visited Regional Hospice and Home Care’s new Center for Comfort Care & Healing and seen his gift of the sparkling white Dodge Ram emblazoned with the orange Regional Hospice and Home Care logo at its new home at 30 Milestone Road in Danbury.

Regional Hospice and Home Care will honor Garavel’s generosity with the installation of a granite paver in the walkway of its memorial garden and continue to sing his praises mightily at every mention of a large equipment pick-up or a blizzard forecast.