Grass Valley’s Hospice of the Foothills volunteer wins award |

Grass Valley’s Hospice of the Foothills volunteer wins award

Dick DeLisser, Maggie and Susan Negreen, President and CEO of California Hospice and Palliative Care Association.
Submitted photo |

Lake Wildwood resident, Dick DeLisser, with his service dog Maggie, were recently presented with California Hospice and Palliative Care Association’s Gift of the Heart Award.

Each year, the award is presented to a hospice volunteer, serving in California, who has developed and implemented a unique project or shown a history of dedicated service to hospice and the patients they serve, according to a release.

DeLisser first became involved with Hospice of the Foothills in December 2013 when his wife, Julia, began receiving hospice care. Shortly after Julia’s death, DeLisser began attending weekly Bereavement Support Group meetings, always with Maggie in tow.

Maggie was such a welcome and vital part of the group’s healing processes, it became clear she had a special gift, the release stated. DeLisser’s profound gratitude for the quality of care Julia received and the support he felt throughout the process inspired he and Maggie to become Hospice of the Foothills volunteers.

After making this decision, DeLisser and Maggie become active volunteers. Maggie earned her certification as a therapy dog, and the team started paying friendly visits to patients and providing respite for the families. DeLisser has also trained and serves as an active member of the organization’s Vet-to-Vet program.

That would be enough to keep most volunteers busy, but DeLisser did more. He completed Bereavement Volunteer training in 2014. He then implemented an additional support group model for Hospice of the Foothills called “A New Beginning.”

This group was designed for those who were a year or more past the death of their loved ones. This charter group formed special friendships as members moved through the healing process with support from one another. The New Beginnings concept worked with the Bereavement Programs and a third group formed this fall.

“Voluntarily facilitating two (Hospice of the Foothills) grief support groups has provided me with the unique experience of sharing the most personal, authentic, and caring times of my life,” DeLisser said. “The intimacy and trust within these small groups is beyond comparison, giving me depth and new life, as well as to my fellow companions on our new journey.”

Even with a busy schedule of patient visits and leading support groups, DeLisser had one more volunteer goal to complete. This past June, he became a trained Dying Vigil volunteer. This group provides emotional support to hospice patients and family members, or other caregivers, during a patient’s final hours. It provides a compassionate presence for patients whose death is imminent and who may be without the supportive presence of loved ones.

Dying Vigil volunteers are on call around the clock. Upon receiving the award, DeLisser reflected on what an honor and privilege it is to be present at such an intimate time in patients’ lives.

To learn more about Hospice of the Foothills’ programs, services and volunteer opportunities call 530-272-5739 or visit

Source: Hospice of the Foothills

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