Known as Nita, Anita Domnitz and her husband Ric (Merrick), a personal injury lawyer, have been married for forty-six years and have lived in Whitefish Bay for forty-one of them. Nita describes it as a Norman Rockwell neighborhood with its sidewalks, streetlights, parks, lakefront and shopping, all within walking distance.
“We love being close to downtown Milwaukee for theatre, concerts, art museums, fun and fine dining,” Nita said, “and Brewers games!”
They’ve just added a putting green to their backyard. “It’s great fun for our grandchildren and Ric! We have two sons, Ari and Noah, and four beautiful, healthy grandchildren.”
Nita first got involved with Angel On My Shoulder when she did a workshop with the Rose family and employees of Discover Wisconsin. “Lolly and the family invited me in 1997 to be the first AOMS summer camp nurse and counselor in Three Lakes, WI. It was a fantastic experience to see the joy, fun, freedom and quality of the camp and AOMS.”
In subsequent years, Nita’s son Ari and his friends joined as camp counselors. “One summer, my son Noah was the counselor for the boys who stayed on Noah’s Ark!”
Nita later assisted in developing and counseling at the Teen Camp.
The first Angel Care was formed in 1999. “Rick Rose knew an AIDS Caregiver facilitator named Sally Fischer who flew in from New York to facilitate,” Nita said. She and her parents were participants. Her beloved brother Jeff passed in 1989 at thirty-seven from metastatic osteosarcoma of the jaw after a seven year remission. “Angel Care with Sally was so healing for the three of us,” Nita said. “My Mother was able to openly express her pain and resentments to group members she’d just met! We all gained insight and tools to help us cope with our sadness.”
Nita told Lolly that with her counseling group therapy experience she could facilitate Angel Care, and soon she was running the group. That was in 2001, and for the next eighteen years Nita facilitated 33 groups that served 418 caregivers. “In 2009 we held a reunion for all the participants who had attended groups up to that point. It was a phenomenal turnout and the caregivers were treated like royalty.”
“My ideas for Angel Care were to encourage creative expression, nonjudgmental acceptance and witnessing, bonding, empathy, respect, comraderie, trust, coping strategies, and wholistic education,” Nita said.
“The Angel Care program was a gift to all who attended and a gift to me. I learned so much from each group. The last few years we allowed some caregivers to repeat the experience if we had room in the groups. It was a privilege that I will cherish forever.”
Nita also wrote articles for AOMS Magazine. “My early articles focused on the health of the body with regard to nutrition, hydration, sleep, cell development and repair.” Most of Nita’s articles were inspired by clients, personal challenges, healthy new age philosophies, and inspirational people in her life.
Some of Nita’s fondest memories include experiencing happy, carefree children at camp, dancing, singing, making tree pictures that became notecards, costume parties, swimming and boating, and teen group emotional sharing.
“Angel Care gave its participants the experience of bonding between caregivers, sincere and respectful support for one another, and humor as a healing emotion,” Nita said.
Other great memories include the Golf outing award and fundraising dinner, where Ric talked about Nita’s dedication and sincere love of AOMS and Angel Care. “Ari and Noah surprised me at the dinner! They drove from Milwaukee to be with me for my recognition and tribute for Angel Care and drove back the same evening. The best surprise of my life!”
“Volunteering with AOMS is a rewarding endeavor,” Nita said. “Everything AOMS does is done with care, love, quality, and thought. AOMS is quality in every program and fundraiser. AOMS is the real deal!”