Annie Wilcox, Francis House
On this episode of Working: Syracuse, we speak to Annie Wilcox, who has worked as a caregiver at Francis House on Syracuse's Northside for eight years. Founded in 1991 by three sisters of St. Francis, Francis House was developed under the name "Project Home." From its inception, the goal was to create a setting where people with terminal illnesses could spend their final days in a loving and dignified manner. After seven years of operation at 108 Michaels Ave., Francis House renovated the facility to expand its capacity from six residents to eight in 1998. Six years later, a second, adjoined residence was opened at 114 Michaels Ave. Now, after more than 25 years in operation, Francis House has cared for more than 2,500 residents.

Currently, Francis House accommodates 16 residents and often is at capacity. They are cared for by 29 professional staff, like Annie, and a group of around 450 volunteers that fills needs ranging from cooking to gardening to cleaning and beyond. That staff-to-resident ratio allows for personalized care that seeks to create a sense of home and family. However, the reality that patients are facing the end of their lives remains an ever-present subtext to the work of those at Francis House. But a focus on forging relationships and delivering attentive care means residents escape the confines of being just terminally ill patients. Instead, they and those who care for them spend their days as friends who just happen to be aware of the limited time they have to know each other.