Employee Spotlight: Bernadine Hillman

Name, title: Bernadine Hillman, Home Care Aide/CHPNA

How long have you worked here?
Over 12 years.

What made you decide to work here?
When I was working for a home care agency that was located in Livonia they had assigned me a patient that had dementia, and she was on hospice, and she passed. I didn’t realize how emotionally attached I had become to her until her daughter told me she was dying…so that’s when I decided ok, I think that’s my calling; to get into hospice. And I’m glad I did.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
Through a CNA program that I was taking at the time, they had listed some different agencies that were hiring.

Bernadine has worked at Angela Hospice for over 12 years.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I go to my first visit, where I’m welcomed by the family, or the patient if they stay alone. Then I get them prepared for their personal care, setting out what I would need to give them a bath or assist them in the shower. Then I move on to my next patient and basically the same thing happens all over again until the end of the day.

What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
Making the patients and their families happy.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
There was one particular couple -- they were in their nineties and had been married over 70 years -- and the gentleman was on hospice. He had some type of ailment that caused him to hemorrhage, which he couldn’t control and couldn’t stop. So when that time came his wife knew and he already knew it wasn’t going to be long before he passed. When he started hemorrhaging, the nurse was there to slow down the bleeding by applying pressure. He told his wife, “I love you.” That was so touching because he knew that he didn’t have too much longer.

Volunteer Spotlight: Char Kramer

Char (center) has been an Angela Hospice volunteer
for almost five years.
For volunteer Char Kramer the idea of becoming a volunteer at Angela Hospice happened through the power of suggestion.

Char had recently retired and was looking for somewhere to volunteer when her friend, and fellow Angela Hospice volunteer, Holly Hodgson mentioned that she was going to sign up to volunteer at Angela Hospice. Char jumped at the chance to volunteer for hospice.

“She told me she was going to sign up for hospice and I thought, ‘What a great idea!’” said Char, whose mother was a hospice patient in Minnesota in 2007.

Char, who has now been a volunteer for almost five years, may not have known a whole lot about Angela Hospice, but she did have firsthand experience of how wonderful hospice care can be. Char said thanks to hospice her mom was able to receive expert care during the last chapter of her life.

“I don’t think anything can beat that,” she said.

So in the fall of 2011 she took the classes to become an Angela Hospice volunteer. She originally volunteered in the Care Center and helped feed patients, something she loved to do, but then she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2012. Due to the radiation treatment she was receiving, she stepped back from volunteering in the Care Center and turned to a new department: development, where she now primarily helps with mailings and the annual events.

“They just sounded fun,” Char said. “I’m a big people person so I thought that would be fun to help out with all these people and get to see some of the events while you’re there.”

Plus, Char knows all the events benefit a really good cause, another bonus to working them. Since she started volunteering in Development Char has worked almost every one of the annual events, ranging from Arbor Day to Laughter Lifts You Up. While the events are all very different Char said she mainly sells raffle tickets in some way, shape, or form at each event. Her favorite part about it? Taking everybody’s money, she joked.

Char (left) primarily sells raffle tickets at many of the
Angela Hospice annual events.
“I just think it’s wonderful how the people are donating to a good cause,” Char said.

She sees it in action too. There was one event where she sold so many tickets that she had to empty her apron three times because of all the sales she had made.

 “Angela Hospice is the trick,” she said. “People come for them.”

Including seven of Char’s friends, who are all attending Laughter Lifts You Up this month and have already told her they want raffle tickets.

“I said, ‘Why do you want the raffle tickets?’ They said, ‘Because it’s for a really good cause.’” Char said

Laughter Lifts You Up is one of Char’s favorite events because she always loves the comedian. She also really likes the fall’s annual Light Up a Life Gala, which often has great music. But she joked that her all-time favorite of the events is the one with the most single men at it.

Char, who also volunteers at her church and for the Michigan Philharmonic, may volunteer primarily in the Development Department, but there is one story from her time in the Care Center that has stuck with her. There was a patient who needed help bathing who went on and on thanking them for their help and telling them how nice they were.

“That memory has stuck with me for so long because we complain about the silliest things, and there she was, so appreciative of everything we did for her,” Char said. “Then I came home and thought, ‘I’m not going to complain about anything anymore.’

“Of course, I probably did the next day,” she laughed. “That was really humbling for me.”

Char’s whole experience volunteering at Angela Hospice has been humbling, among other things.

“I’ve had a lot of volunteer jobs and hospice is one that I really, really enjoy,” she said. “I’ve made so many friends there. I just love it.”

Employee Spotlight: Kelly Hardy

Name, title: Kelly Hardy, Home Care Social Worker

How long have you worked here?
15 years

What made you decide to work here?
The idea of working with families in their own homes really appealed to me. Being able to see what daily life is like for someone is very helpful in trying to understand their needs.
I also really appreciated the extent to which emotional and spiritual needs were valued at Angela Hospice – that’s often not the case in other areas of health care.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
I had a friend who had worked at Angela Hospice for a brief time and she encouraged me to consider working here.

What’s a typical day like for you?
My days are typically comprised of several phone conversations with patients and families who are currently in our program, as well as bereavement phone calls to families who have recently lost a loved one. Home visits are also a regular part of each day in which I serve as a counselor and a community resource liaison for our patients and families. Generally, I assist in coping with end-of-life experiences, caregiver stressors, and ensuring that patients are informed and able to access the care and resources that they need.

Kelly (second from left) at Angela Hospice's Light Up
a Life Gala last fall.
What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
I’ve always said that Angela Hospice has an incredible way of drawing in some of the most caring people around. It’s a special thing to work closely with colleagues who have shared values and who care so much about helping others.

Every day I’m reminded to be humble and to be grateful for the little things in life. If you’re paying attention doing this work, it’s hard not to have constant perspective.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
I remember the first time, early in my career, being in the home with a family when their loved one took his last breath. It was such an intimate moment to share with them and it’s really hard to put that feeling into words. In the moment, I was completely in awe of what had happened and then I was able to guide this family through the steps that followed.

There have been some really special moments where transformative things have happened in families – in terms of communication or newfound understanding in relationships – that I have been fortunate to be a part of. Those are experiences that remind me why this time at the end of life is so precious.

Volunteer Spotlight: Pat Millen

Name: Pat Millen

How long have you been a volunteer?
Two years in April.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Development, events, mailings, salads for Caregiver Suppers, and ice cream socials.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I am in a place in my life that’s really very good and I’ve gotten more free time. My grandchildren don’t need me anymore, they’re all in school now; I used to be there for them in case the parents had to go do something. Now I don’t have to do that and I’m in good health. I just decided that I need to give back and thought, “Where could I do this? How could I volunteer?”

Pat (left) working at Burgers, Brews & Bros.
I was thinking about food pantries and serving meals, but I’ve lived in this community for 45 years, and I only live three miles away. I’ve been associated with the Felicians since school -- I went to school for 12 years with them in Hamtramck…And I thought, “You know, this is close and I think I have skills that I can give to Angela Hospice.” I really like the whole concept that they have over here too.

I think being at Angela Hospice has changed me for the better because everybody is just so nice. I thought this would probably be a good fit for me because I can do a lot of different things and I’m conscientious, dependable. I think I come in with a good attitude…So it’s almost been two years and I’ve loved it. It’s been very nice.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Helping out, meeting the people…just being part of the group. Most everything I’ve done I’ve enjoyed doing so I don’t have any one thing in particular.

I enjoy working in the Development Department, I think it’s a lot of fun to help out with all the events that are going on and see all the background work that happens. I have an office background so I think I kind of fit in over there.

Glitzy Glamour Raffle tickets now on sale

This year's annual Laughter Lifts You Up event already has some really amazing raffle prizes, including the Glitzy Glamour Raffle prize!

One lucky winner will take home a Hearts on Fire 18K White Gold Lorelei Crescent 1.00ct TW Diamond Necklace (pictured left, enlarged to show detail) worth $4,900! This gorgeous piece of jewelry was kindly donated by Orin Jewelers of Garden City.

Tickets are $10 each, 3 tickets for $20 or 10 tickets for $50. The drawing will take place at our annual women’s event, Laughter Lifts You Up, on Thursday, February 23, between 8-10 p.m.

If you won’t be able to make it to Laughter Lifts You Up but still want to buy tickets, that’s fine! You don’t need to be present to win.

Call the Development office at (866) 464-7810 to get tickets over the phone or download the order form here. Or, stop by the Angela Hospice Care Center and speak to the receptionist. Tickets will also be sold at the event.

Interested in more information about Laughter Lifts You Up or want to order tickets for the event? Click here.