Maybe 11-year-old Joe Boerboom and his pal Ben Schussler will build worlds with Legos on a weekend afternoon. Or maybe they'll watch movies deep into the night. Or maybe, they'll finally have a sleepover.
Both boys have muscular dystrophy, which makes it tricky to share that overnight childhood ritual forged by popcorn and games and flashlights.
But soon, Joe and Ben will have a place where they can spend a few hours or even a whole night. It's a place where Joe can easily get around in his wheelchair, where round-the-clock nursing care is provided and both families know their kids are safe.
After years of planning and raising funds, area nonprofit Crescent Cove is celebrating the opening of a respite and hospice home for kids battling life-threatening illnesses. It will be the first facility of its kind in the region and only the third in the nation, according to the nonprofit.
Crescent Cove marked the landmark debut with a ribbon cutting and open-house tours in recent days at the cozy home overlooking Twin Lakes in Brooklyn Center.
The home can accommodate six patients at a time for respite stays and end-of-life care. It also has a suite outfitted for family and friends.
Its respite care will give kids like Joe and Ben the chance to pal around during short-term visits — and their families a chance to recharge from the unrelenting rigors of caregiving.
"As parents, we would feel safe and comfortable leaving them at a place like this," said Jess Boerboom, Joe's mom.
The 6,700-square-foot facility will also provide hospice care in a nurturing setting for families who must often choose between a child dying in the hospital or at home. A third, homelike option like Crescent Cove's is crucial, proponents of pediatric hospice facilities say.
Katie Lindenfelser, who founded Crescent Cove in 2009, described the home as a "dream come true."
"It's a kind of dream that nobody wants to need in a million years, but if they need it, it's here," Lindenfelser said.
Families can begin to use the center's respite care in January, with hospice care expected to begin next spring or summer, Lindenfelser said.
The home's services will be available to families at no cost, with the nonprofit leaning on donations, grants and fundraising efforts. A campaign is underway to rally funds, with annual operating expenses for round-the-clock nursing care at the home expected to total about $2.1 million.
The need is great for this kind of facility, said Dr. Michele Peterson, a pediatrician who is also on the nonprofit's board.
"I don't think it's going to be hard to fill this place at all," Peterson said.
Crescent Cove has already helped more than 80 families this year through outreach like delivering meals and offering counseling support.
"They meet you where you're at and support you," said Stacey Vogele, whose 16-year-old daughter, Tana, has a rare metabolic disorder and is unable to walk or speak.
Tana came in her wheelchair with her parents to a Nov. 11 celebration at the new center. She sat amid the hubbub of families touring the sunny home, which has been renovated from its former use as an adult hospice facility.
Parents smiled at the spacious fireplace area, the music room, the reflection spaces. Kids flocked to the colorful, interactive mural in the entryway, touching the whimsical landscape. Nearby, Joe and Ben explored what may be the site of a future sleepover.
All the snug details make the center a far cry from a hospital, said Boerboom, Joe's mom: "It's peaceful. Families can feel more at home."
Hannah Covington • 612-673-4751