Hospice of the Foothills honors longtime auxiliary | TheUnion.com

Hospice of the Foothills honors longtime auxiliary

Friendships come and go, but the women and men of Friends of Hospice seem to have a knack for lifelong friendships. Hospice of the Foothills his honoring Friends of Hospice, the auxiliary that has been providing support for over 30 years.

The stories that follow illustrate the extreme dedication that Friends of Hospice has shown on a daily basis making this auxiliary, a shining example of commitment to a mission.

Founding member shares past

Driven by a passion to help community members that need compassionate end of life care, Pat Chargin went on a community based mission. Pat had worked in hospitals as a nurse for many years never thinking that she could be a hospice nurse. She still felt compelled to somehow provide more assistance to those with life limiting illnesses. In 1980, she was talking with some friends and they asked, “Why don’t you start something that fills a need for those patients and families?”

Fran Francis, Marianne Murphy, and Sylvia Crane all helped Pat formulate the ideas that in 1981 became the auxiliary organization known today as Friends of Hospice.

These women started a letter writing campaign, you know the old fashioned way of communicating with people in your community. They were somewhat satisfied that their efforts initially raised awareness about Hospice of the Foothills programs and services but it didn’t raise the necessary funds to provide the best possible hospice care. There was so much interest generated from their snail mail campaign that they decided to officially form a nonprofit organization called Friends of Hospice whose mission is to raise money, promote the work of Hospice of the Foothills, and educate the community about their programs and services through fundraising activities and events.

Eventually Chargin did in fact become a hospice nurse and a volunteer. Her experiences with Hospice of the Foothills really changed her attitude towards death.

“For so many years, I was taught to cure people and get them back home,” Chargin said. “Working with Hospice of the Foothills taught me that people can experience a peaceful journey at the end of their life with the assistance of a professional care team that treats the patient and cares for the whole family.”

Honoring a past president

Linda Rasmussen has been involved with Friends of Hospice for over 20 years. She shared her story noting that her best memory happened before she was even a member of Friends of Hospice. She was at a Welcome Wagon meeting and one woman asked her to consider joining Friends of Hospice. Truth be told, she was leery of joining a social organization made up mostly of women. She followed her instinct though to just simply check it out by attending one of their meetings. She was so impressed by how organized and efficient the organization was that she immediately joined and later became President of their Board of Directors serving from 2005-07.

Rasmussen’s voice starts to get excited as she relates how proud she is of Friends of Hospice to have blossomed over the years with their fundraising efforts.

“We started out with things like Pennies drives and Italian galas,” Rasmussen said. “Now membership has grown to over 200 people from our community and we consistently provide funds to Hospice of the Foothills that help fill the gap between government reimbursement and the cost of care”.

Shortly after joining Friends of Hospice, Linda introduced the Tree of Love event, which she chaired for many years. This is one of Friends of Hospice “signature” events in appreciation of community support. Every November, invitations with “paper tree ornaments” are mailed to the community soliciting donations which are returned with a message written upon the paper tree. These ornaments are displayed on Holiday Memorial Trees located at the Hospice of the Foothills facility as well as at the Hospice of the Foothills Gift and Thrift stores in Penn Valley and Grass Valley.

In partnership with Hospice of the Foothills, “Celebration of Lives” has been added to the event. Families whose loved ones have been cared for by Hospice of the Foothills are invited to a service and Tree of Love reception each year at Sierra Presbyterian Church, on the first Thursday evening in December.

For years a part of this event was the lighting of cluster of pine trees, each light representing a loved one cared for by Hospice of the Foothills. In 2009 a storm destroyed the lights.

This year Kay Baker, and family is generously donating a beautiful, lighted tree to be displayed through the month of December on their property at Hooper and Weaver, in full view from the highway where it can be enjoyed by the entire community.

Rasmussen got involved in Friends of Hospice for many reasons. One of them being she thought maybe someday her family might need the services of Hospice of the Foothills. She saw firsthand how Hospice of the Foothills provided assistance to her pastor’s wife. In addition, she worked in medicine all her life and specifically as an executive director of an independent physicians practice association in the Bay Area.

No time limit on giving back

Suzanne Reese is another longtime member of Friends of Hospice with 21 years of service. At the age of 79, one might wonder why she continues to stay involved.

“Hospice helped my mother and mother in law teaching me how to provide end of life care to those I loved,” Reese said. “The people were so kind and they asked for nothing in return. When I get overwhelmed at times, I think about everything that hospice did for my family. How do you put a time limit on giving back?”

Reese says she is especially proud of how the organization has grown and contributed to the community vision of having a Compassionate Care Home. She feels great satisfaction in knowing that many wonderful people from this community made that vision happen.

“Friends of Hospice is like a family who is dedicated to seeing each other flourish and grow,” she said.

Pave the Way, a year-round event, is Reese’s favorite project. Her goal is to involve every business and property tax-payer in the county in donating a “Gift of Permanent Recognition” in support of all the services offered by Hospice of the Foothills.

A brick, with the inscription of the donor’s choice, can be given in Memory of, Recognition of, Honor of, or tribute to a loved one, and entire family, a Business, Social Club, Service Organization, Youth Organization, Graduating Class, Church or Branch of the Military. An individual or groups of individuals and families can share in the donation, and their brick will be proudly placed within the landscaping of the Hospice of the Foothills Campus and Compassionate Care Home.

How can you get involved

Joining Friends is easy; Friends ask that you pay $20 per year in dues ($30 per couple) and that you participate on at least two events and/or committees a year. They meet quarterly on the second Tuesday of January, April, July and October for a luncheon and meeting currently held at Alta Sierra Country Club.

If you have questions or would like to speak directly to someone about Friends of Hospice, please call our Membership Chairperson Judy Blue (530) 432-2330 or email her at jmjablue2@comcast.net.

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