Attorney Larry Riefberg ()
Larry Riefberg says the decision he made to shave his entire head of hair was a small price to pay for a good cause: raising money for a new residential hospice building in Danbury.
Riefberg, who was turning 56, decided he wanted to get creative and raise at least $56,000 for Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut in Danbury.
When Riefberg shaved his head at a fundraising breakfast March 31, he surpassed his goal, bringing in about $67,000. “I wanted to raise $56,000. We got over that,” said Riefberg, a lawyer who has been in practice 31 years at Riefberg, Smart, Donohue & NeJame.
His father, Morton Riefberg, started the firm in 1955, becoming a Superior Court judge in 1985.
Riefberg, a University of Connecticut School of Law graduate who concentrates on residential real estate and relocation, explained why the fundraising was important to him. “They are building a facility in Danbury, a 12-bedroom site in Danbury to take care of people at the end of their lives,” he said. “This is the first of its kind in Connecticut.”
The facility will be the state’s first and only private-room hospice residence.
“Hospice is doing good things in the community,” Riefberg added.
The building is scheduled to be finished Nov. 15 and is expected to accept its first resident patients Dec. 1.
The entire $12 million cost to construct the new building is being funded by donations.
Riefberg is the chairman of the hospice’s golf committee, which has raised a large amount of money over the last several years.
Paul Sirois, executive director of the Regional Hospice Foundation, a fundraising arm of hospice, said that Riefberg has been one of hospice’s largest supporters in terms of effort and money raised.
Sirois said that hospice has so far raised $7 million toward their goal.
“I would say Larry was one of the founding members of the golf committee, which was engineered to raise money for hospice.”
Overall, the golf committee has raised about $350,000 for hospice, Sirois said.
Sirois said Riefberg’s latest fundraising effort was not only successful, surpassing its goal by $11,000, but it was also fun.
“Everybody had a good laugh at his expense,” Sirois said. “God bless him.”
Sirois said that Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut already offers care for hospice patients in their home, but the new hospice building will be the first private-room hospice in the state. “Most hospice services are provided in the house,” Sirois said. There is a residential hospice in Branford, but the Danbury hospice will be one of a kind because the Branford residence does not have private rooms.
“We are proud to say it’s the first of its kind,” Sirois said.
Sirois said that the residential hospice building is for people who don’t want to die in their homes, for one reason or another. Some may want to spare loved ones the memory. Others may need 24-hour care, which the residential hospice will provide. The building will be considered a “licensed specialty hospital” and will accept patients 24 hours a day.
“Our home care business will continue. This will be another option,” Sirois said.
Riefberg said that he got involved in the fundraising effort about four years ago when a group of people got together to start a golf tournament for hospice. This year, he decided to shave his head. Riefberg said that he isn’t really sure how the idea came to him. “It just came to me one day as I was thinking about what I could personally do and I came up with Hair For Hospice.”•