Marlis's Story: Faith for the Journey

Marlis Brady has a beautiful accent. There’s something quite elegant in the way she pronounces her consonants; and the rhythm of her voice, as it subtly rises and falls, produces an enchanting, peaceful effect – even as she describes the trials she’s faced in her 88 years.

Marlis in one of her favorite spots, the back sun porch.
Marlis grew up in the Rhine Main Valley in Germany during World War II, where hardship was not uncommon.

“You couldn’t get anything new. We grew up always saving things, repairing things,” Marlis explained. “I remember one winter I froze my toes because we didn’t have regular shoes… I was standing in line for milk too long.”

Food was scarce for families like hers, who didn’t have a farm of their own. But she and her brother helped at other farms during the potato harvest. It meant a sandwich each day for lunch, and an extra sack of potatoes at the end of the year. It was a way to help their family, before Marlis started to work for the occupying American forces after the war.

John and Marlis Brady
on their wedding day,
September 27, 1952.
The couple married
 in Windsor before
moving to Detroit.
“When I turned 18, I could actually get a good job because I could work as an interpreter,” Marlis said. “Then I got a real dinner every day and so that was the way to go. It was what we all looked for, really.”

Then as soon as Marlis turned 21 – well, technically, it was the day after – she filed immigration papers for Canada. It took almost two years to get the papers, and in the meantime, she met her husband, John, there in Germany. (“In fact our first date was going to church, really funny,” Marlis recalled.)

At 22, Marlis emigrated across the Atlantic to Canada. John, born in the Bronx but raised in London and Dublin, later followed, and the two were married. But they knew Detroit was where the jobs were, so the Motor City was their destination.

Marlis and John with all five
of their children.
Now one thing you should know about Marlis is that she is a remarkable woman. Consider that she earned her Master’s degree while she had five little kids at home. Or that she and John spent years sailing the Eastern Seaboard after retiring from the Old Shillelagh bar downtown – just one of the businesses they ran. Marlis is also remarkable as a devoted supporter of Angela Hospice, and has faithfully sent a donation every month over the last few years. Having given a total of 54 donations in support of patients and their families, her commitment to supporting Angela Hospice began in 2009, when she lost her son, John, Jr. She and her husband had enlisted Angela Hospice to help care for him in their home, as he battled lung cancer.

“We were very pleased how my son was being taken care of,” said Marlis. “His sister who lived in Vermont, she came and worked from home and she was his caregiver. It was actually all the sisters who came and helped him.”

Marlis Brady said she’s feeling comfortable
these days thanks to her hospice team. Here she
is pictured with her daughter Dorinda, twin
great-granddaughters Kayla and Chloe, and
Dorinda’s poodle Darby.
John was just 54 years old when he died. Sadly, just five years later, another of Marlis’s children passed away – her daughter Barbara.

Now Marlis faces the final round in her own battle with cancer. But she’s at peace with her decision to forgo radiation and the “three or four miserable months” it might bring.

She’s happy with her choice to get home care from Angela Hospice in her daughter Dorinda’s home, and she’s grateful she started using hospice early on.

“It’s wonderful,” Marlis said. “They always take very good care of me and I’m always very comfortable.”

Her nurse Jane Vass regularly comes to check on her, make sure her symptoms are managed, and that she is not in pain.

“Jane convinced me that it’s OK to take pain medicine,” Marlis explained. “You know, I grew up in the ‘you grin and bear it’ type of mentality. But she says I don’t have to grin and bear it, you can be comfortable. And that’s what I’ve been doing. She convinced me of that.”

Jane Vass is Marlis's nurse. "It's an honor to take
care of people at this stage of their lives," Jane said.
"I have enjoyed my time with Marlis and listening to
her stories."
Marlis said she’s been feeling much better now on a low dose of morphine, and it’s allowed her to spend quality time with her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, even if it’s hard for them to tell sometimes that she’s sick. But Marlis knows her time is limited, and it’s something she’s come to terms with, thanks to her Catholic faith.

“I know where I am going,” Marlis said. “Jesus has my back and I ask Him every day to take my hand and lead me.”

As she approaches the end of her life, Marlis is grateful to be comfortable, and to know she’ll once again see the son, daughter, and husband she lost.

“My husband died last year August, so I have three people waiting for me,” Marlis said. “I have my faith, and because of that I know where I am going.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Larry Janowski

Name: Lawrence (Larry) Janowski

How long have you been a volunteer?
Five years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
I work in the patient care facility and assist in fundraising for Angela hospice. Every other Saturday during the summer, I barbecue for patients and their families. On Sunday mornings, I volunteer with the snack cart and visit with families and patients if they are up to it. During the year, I help with various fundraisers, such as: the Tree of Life, golf outings, Walk of Remembrance, and help as needed setting up other fundraisers.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I had a spiritual encounter. Angela Hospice helped my wife’s family with my mother-in-law’s passing. The nurses from home care helped our family as needed keeping the family together and making sure my mother-in-law did not suffer and could spend her remaining time sharing family memories.While driving home from work, I passed Angela Hospice and was wondering how I could give back to my community. 

Larry and his wife Carol at Angela Hospice's annual Light Up a Life Gala.

Why Angela Hospice?
I heard a small voice telling me to help others. Angela Hospice was a perfect fit.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Helping others and giving back to my community.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
While barbecuing one Saturday afternoon, a patient asked me to give him the best hot dog ever and to make it extremely well done. I did my best to honor his request and the patient sat nearby me. When he was finished he came back, thanked me, and told me the hot dog was the best he ever had. A few days later he passed away, but he really enjoyed the hot dog! My greatest reward is helping others and raising money for a great organization.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon K. McDougald

Sharon working the hospitality cart in our Care Center.
Name: Sharon K. McDougald

How long have you been a volunteer? 
I've been volunteering for over 16 years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer? 
I volunteer for the hospitality cart, flowers, mailings, and selling raffle tickets at the stores. I also help out with the Golf Outing, Light Up a Life event, Laughter Lifts You Up women's event, Easter Brunch, and Mother's Day Brunch.

Sharon with fellow volunteers Donna Beamish, Maureen
Hassien, and Georgia Scappaticci.

What made you decide to become a volunteer? 
After retirement, I felt I needed to find a way to fill my time and give back to society and my community. 

Why Angela Hospice? 
I picked Angela Hospice because it was close to my home and I believe in the hospice mission.

What is your favorite part about volunteering? 
I love everything about volunteering! I have found out that I get so much Joy from helping others and the community.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering? 
One of my favorite memories just happened at the Easter Brunch this year. It was so nice to talk with the residents and their families and see the joy in their faces as they ate and reminisced. The next day I was doing the hospitality cart and one of the residents that was at brunch had passed away and the family was in the Care Center. They told me they will always remember Easter Brunch because that was their last meal together with their loved one. Priceless!!

Employee Spotlight: Melanie Miller

Melanie Miller (right) working with Volunteer Dottie 
at the Light Up a Life Gala.
Name, title: Melanie Miller, Volunteer Liaison/Development Clerk

How long have you worked here?
Seven years.

What made you decide to work here?
I was at home, and my mom had just died, I had had my daughter, and I decided that I wanted to go back to school and get my four-year degree. So I went to Madonna University and started the hospice and palliative studies program. I took my first hospice class and I really liked it so I thought if I’m going to be in a hospice environment then I need to probably volunteer at a hospice.

I came over here and I started volunteering. I went to school for many years and I finally got my four-year degree. Then after I finished school there was a job opening so I applied for it and I got the job.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
I live in Livonia so I drive by here all the time.

What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me…it just depends. I help a lot with the events, with the volunteers, process donations, help with the receptionists, fill in at the phones, and I assist Helen  [the events coordinator]…I don’t have a typical day.

Melanie with volunteer Geri Orlowski at the "Rock
Your Red" Laughter Lifts You Up women's event.
What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
Working with the volunteers. We have such a great group of people. I work with volunteers for the phones, during events, and in our office.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
Some of my favorite memories here are just getting to know all the volunteers and getting to work with them. I have the pleasure of working with them. Those are my good memories.

My favorite memory when I was a student at Angela Hospice was when I was able to work with grieving children during a 7-week children’s grief workshop. I feel I was able to make a difference and help children during such a difficult time.

Strategic Planning 2017-2022

To our Community Friends, Team Members, volunteers, and supporters:

Thank you so much to everyone who graciously took the time to complete our Strategic Planning Survey a few months ago. We had over 300 responses and we are grateful for the input and thoughtful suggestions we received.

It’s great to know we have the support of our community behind us, and we hope we can continue to count on you who give of your time, talents, and treasure to further our cause on behalf of hospice patients and their families.

We wanted to make the survey results available publicly for you, so you’ll see a link to our results summary below.

We look forward to continuing our partnership together as we embrace what we’ve learned from this survey, and as we work to achieve the goals we’ve set as an organization: growing our mission, enlarging our referral base, expanding and improving our home care program, making technological advancements, exploring a palliative care program, working to transform societal views toward end-of-life, and ensuring our mission’s sustainability.

The impact of a non-profit organization is so dependent upon the relationships it has within its community – and we are sincerely appreciative of the kind support of our neighbors and friends. We ask that you continue to play a part in the future of the Angela Hospice mission for many years to come.

God bless,
Margot Parr                                                       Barb Hendrickson
President & CEO                                               Chair, Board of Directors