Volunteer Spotlight: Judy O'Meara

Name: Judy O’Meara

How long have you been a volunteer?
17 years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
In 1989 my brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he died that year. I knew he had hospice care and it was wonderful. I thought, “Well, when I retire, if I have some time, that’s what I’d like to do.” And I love it.

Why Angela Hospice?
I had heard very nice things about Angela Hospice. It’s in the area…at the time [I started volunteering] I was living in Livonia. It was a wonderful place.

Judy volunteers in the Care Center, where she
performs many different tasks.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Being with the patients. Absolutely.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I was a teacher for 30 years, and one of my students ended up here. That is one of my fondest, one of many fond memories I have, was administering to him.

I think just the overall…meeting with the patients and their families. I know that a lot of people think, “How can you go to this place?” But it’s a wonderful place to go to. It’s a peaceful place. It’s a loving place. I would say that I receive much more than I would ever give here.

The Season of Giving

For volunteer Sue Cousino, Christmas Eve isn’t a time to begin cooking for the next day’s festivities, it’s a day to volunteer at Angela Hospice’s Tree of Life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Sue normally works around 10 shifts at the Tree
    of Life, this year she's working 12 shifts.
“I always work the 24th because lots of the ladies [volunteers] are cooking and no one wants me to cook,” Sue laughed. “I’d like people to live through the holidays so I don’t volunteer to cook, and no one would eat it anyhow if they knew I did.”

So Sue has spent every Christmas Eve for the past 15 years sitting at the Tree of Life table, helping others and not cooking.

What started as only working weekends has now turned into volunteering multiple times per week since she retired. She tends to work around 10 shifts per season. This year, she’s going above average and working 12.

“I love to do it,” she said.

While some things have changed over the years, Sue’s favorite part about the Tree of Life hasn’t.

“Getting to talk to the people, especially the kids,” she said. “They’re so cute.

“They don’t know what it’s all about but they want to remember Nana or somebody,” she continued. “Their parents will say, ‘Remember Nana? This is for her.’ They get all excited and say, ‘Can I write her a letter?’ Then they write a little note. It’s cute.”

Sue’s stories of working the Tree of Life range from cute to a little crazy, like the year one woman wanted to buy a fully-decorated tree. Many of her stories have one thing in common though: the gratitude people have for Angela Hospice.

“People will come to the Tree of Life and say, ‘You guys did such a good job of taking care of my husband, my wife, my this or that,’ and they are so sincere,” Sue said. “They just talk about the great care their loved one received, and they are so relived they did this.”

Sue can understand that feeling. Her dad was in Angela Hospice care in 1997 for a week before passing at 83.

“I can tell people I was able to have my dad at home and he was out of pain and was comfortable,” she said. “He knew what was going on and he wasn’t the least bit worried about dying.”

He had had cancer and then quite a few years later started complaining about back pain. After going to the emergency room twice with her dad the doctor noticed shadows on his x-rays. That second trip to the emergency room was where the idea of putting her dad in hospice was brought up. Sue called Angela Hospice and someone came out the next day.

“It’s the hardest, best thing you will ever do,” she said.

Putting her dad on hospice was hard, but choosing Angela Hospice was an easy decision. Having spent most of her life on the Felician grounds – Sue attended Ladywood High School and Madonna University, and worked at St. Mary’s while in college – she had passed Angela Hospice many times.

Sue and her family also went to the same church as Angela Hospice foundress, Sister Giovanni, and family. Their dads were friends and used to play cards together.

“I can’t get off the block,” she joked.

Even though letting go of a loved one can be extremely difficult Sue was glad that her dad was no longer in pain, and that she was able to spend time with him as his daughter, not his caregiver.

“I know with dad, and they tell you to tell them this, I said, ‘Dad, it’s OK. You can go and be with mom. She’s waiting for you. Then some of your other buddies are going to want to play golf and mom will be pissed but that’s OK.’”

“And he said, ‘Yeah, I know,’” she laughed.

While Angela Hospice was there for Sue and her family, Sue has been an advocate for Angela Hospice ever since. She volunteers her time not only at the Tree of Life but at the Care Center as well, where she works with patients. She gives financial contributions to Angela Hospice when she can. She also is constantly recommending Angela Hospice to others for their loved ones, and telling people they should become volunteers.

So why do all this for Angela Hospice? That’s simple.

“They took care of dad, so why not?” she said. “There’s no way I could ever repay them for all they did.”

Home for the Holidays

Being cared for in the comfort of home is one of the many benefits of home hospice care. But for those residing in the Angela Hospice Care Center, the Care Center can become a comfortable home away from home as well. Our volunteers seek to make the holidays memorable by creating special opportunities for patients and families to come together and experience holiday festivities – such as Thanksgiving supper at the Care Center.

Patient Jean Henegar was able to attend with six of her family members. While Jean is bed-bound, her nurses were able to wheel her bed right into the Day Room, and found her a spot where she could see the whole room – and all 91 of the other guests! Jean’s daughter, Patti Wert, saw how much it brightened her mother’s spirit.

Jean Henegar’s family was happy to be able to attend
Thanksgiving dinner with her at the Care Center.
“It meant so much to her,” Patti said. She said Jean’s appetite improved and she was happy to be able to spend the holiday with her family.

“She was just thrilled that we could spend that together as a family because we didn’t know how we were going to manage that,” Patti said. “It was as close as we could get to our norm. So that was nice.”

Patti said her mother was also tickled by the visit from the Montessori preschoolers, who came to sing Christmas carols for Angela Hospice’s patients and visitors.

“She was so cute,” Patti said, recalling her mother watching the tiny carolers. “She said, ‘This was better than any pain medication.’”

Whether it’s family suppers, visiting pets, tea parties, or simply the beautiful lights and colors of the holiday season, Angela Hospice hopes the Care Center can provide a sense of “home” for the holidays for hospice patients. We also hope the holidays can be a special time for everyone this year – including all of our amazing supporters who make this good work possible!

Grief and the Holidays

There is no way around it: grief is tough. And the holidays can complicate those feelings. Take a look at some of these ideas that might help you or someone you know who is grieving during the holidays.
  1. Talk to your family and friends. Let them know the holidays are going to be challenging, and you may need to make some changes in the way you celebrate this year. Try to spend time with the people who make you feel comfortable and supported, and don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel.
  2. Let go of obligations. Don’t take on too much. Allow yourself to say “no” when you need to so that you don’t wear yourself out. Remember, you can’t please everyone all the time, but that’s OK.
  3. Change your plans. It might be easier to face the holidays if you approach them in a new way this year. Try a change of scenery, eat out, or switch your traditional brunch to an evening meal. Switching up your routine could make the day easier.
  4. Keep it simple. Remember you don’t have to do it all. Consider visiting the bakery instead of doing your own baking. Cut back on decorations or gifts. Skip the Christmas cards this year. Accept help from those who care about you.
  5. Take care of yourself. Emotionally, physically, and psychologically, the holidays can take a lot out of you. Make sure you take time to rest.
  6. Start a new tradition. You can keep the memory of your loved one alive by doing something in their honor. Light a candle in their memory, say a prayer, put out their favorite ornament, or share a treasured story. Whether it’s something you do as a family, or something that triggers a personal reflection, take time to remember your loved one. 
For more about the grief support services Angela Hospice provides, or to schedule an appointment with a grief counselor, call (734) 464-7810 and ask to speak with our bereavement department. You can also visit us at AskForAngela.com.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kate Mudry

Name: Kate Mudry

How long have you been a volunteer?
One year.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
My mother died about three years ago, and she had in-home hospice care in St. Louis. It made a huge impact on her life, and how she died with dignity in a way that she wanted to, on her own terms, and as comfortable as she possibly could.

I have daughters at Ladywood High School and so I drove by Angela Hospice all the time, and I was like, I need to touch base with them because I think there’s a purpose in that.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I would say the best part is knowing that you’re making a difference in calming someone or making them more comfortable. Or just showing you’re someone who cares. There’s a lot of caring people out there who aren’t afraid of death.

Kate volunteers in Wing B, where she helps with lunch.
What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There was a woman who had been here for quite some time and she had visitors on a fairly regular basis but not when I would come in during lunchtime. She was very, very agitated one day; I think her meds had changed, and I went and sat with her for I think two hours straight.

And we didn’t talk, we didn’t do anything. But the minute I was sitting in there with her she was less agitated and just relaxed. Sometimes people just need to know someone else is there and they’re not alone.

On the Radio

While many people start looking at Angela Hospice for a loved one after hearing about it through a friend or relative, it was an Angela Hospice radio ad that caught Sue Baumberger’s attention.

“That really is what initially started me looking at Angela Hospice,” said Sue, a Woodhaven resident.

Sue with a photo of her dad, Robert, who
was in Angela Hospice care.
Sue and her sister knew that they would have to put their dad, Richard, on hospice care eventually. He had kidney failure and congested heart failure. So with the help of her sister’s friend, who used to work in hospice, their search was on.

“There were a couple that we had narrowed it down to,” Sue said. “We choose Angela Hospice based on her recommendation as well as what I was able to find online.”

And all those radio ads.

Even though Sue had no prior hospice experience, she had only heard good things about using it. Her sister had first-hand experience after using hospice for her mother-in-law.

“No matter what you’ve heard, you really don’t know until you go through it yourself,” she said.

Richard was under Angela Hospice care for a little over a month while living at an assisted living facility. He was then transferred to the VA Medical Center in downtown Detroit, where he would stay for a week-and-a-day before passing at 83. Even through it all he kept his great sense of humor, Sue said.

“He always made everybody laugh, even at the VA towards the end,” Sue said.

Sue also said that everyone that met him loved him, like the Angela Hospice staff. The feeling was mutual.

“I can’t say enough about Ann,” Sue said. Angela Hospice social worker Ann-Patrice Foley was assigned to Richard’s case.

“It was just a very, ‘What can we do for you?” attitude,” Sue said.

That “what can we do for you” attitude began the minute Sue met Ann-Patrice at the assisted living facility where Richard lived. Sue said Ann-Patrice immediately asked if they would need a hospital bed, which they did.

When Richard was reaching the point of needing more care than the assisted living facility could offer, Ann-Patrice worked diligently to try to get him into the VA. This included filling out a nine-page questionnaire for the family.

“When you get a questionnaire and it’s nine pages long…for her to facilitate that for us was just unbelievable,” Sue said.

For Sue, her experience with Ann-Patrice was one of many moments that stood out during her dad’s time under Angela Hospice care.

Another was when Richard, a Navy veteran, had a We Honor Veterans ceremony. It was a very special moment for the whole family. The family had originally been there to celebrate Richard’s birthday. This way they got to do both.

“John did an outstanding job,” Sue said of volunteer John Stern, one of the coordinators of the We Honor Veterans program at Angela Hospice. “That was very nice.”

She also mentioned how quick the response time was when she needed something, like when her dad had a huge blister on his face. Sue called for a nurse because she was concerned, and one came immediately.

“The response time to things we knew nothing about…was just wonderful,” Sue said.

For Sue, having this amount of care for her dad came as a bit of a surprise.

“I knew that hospice was a caring organization, and there to help you, but I didn’t really know the amount of care or the capability that Angela Hospice had for our particular circumstance,” Sue said.

Sue was so moved by the care her dad received that she even wrote a thank-you note to Angela Hospice.

“The compassion that Angela Hospice offered, as well as the support; and everything that goes along with it, was just awesome,” Sue said.

Volunteer Spotlight: Charlotte Neary

Name: Charlotte Neary

How long have you been a volunteer?
Three-and-a-half years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center, gardening, errands, and Tree of Life.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
Once I retired I felt like I needed to give back.

Why Angela Hospice?
As us older nurses start maturing we start realizing that there’s a need for it. I have a sister-in-law who is a nurse, and she works in cardiac care.

Just in some of our talks it really got me thinking that maybe hospice would be a good place to volunteer and give back. When I walked in here, I found this place is blessed. It is holy. There is no other way to describe it.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I get to be the nurse that I learned to be 50 years ago. As the years have gone by nurses do more and more paper work…I think here they do more patient and hands-on care than they do in the hospitals.

        Charlotte volunteers in the Angela Hospice Care Center.
What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I’m just overwhelmed sometimes just making a pot of coffee and having a family say, “Thank you.” Just that kind of thing, like sitting there holding their hand, talking to a patient.

A few months back we had a patient that had a lot of difficulty breathing and I’d often sit with her, even after she’d gotten her medication, until it started kicking in and helping. Her kids happened to come, but as I was walking out they came up and said, “Thank you.” I feel like I’m really…I’m hoping I’m really helping these patients. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Elizabeth McGill

Name: Elizabeth McGill

How long have you been a volunteer?
Two years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center, events, the We Honor Veterans program, and My Nest is Best program.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
Going up and down Newburgh Road to church and that…I kept wanting to volunteer, but I never ventured out until Father Jim over at St. Edith’s was looking for volunteers for the church, and he said, ”What are you waiting for?“ All I could remember was, “What are you waiting for?” It gave me the push.

My friend Debbie, from St. Edith’s, she’s a volunteer [at Angela Hospice] so I said, “Do you think you could get an application?” She said, “Sure.” So that’s where it started. I took the classes and then I started with being a feeder.

Elizabeth volunteers in the Care Center, where
she helps feed patients.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I would say everything really…helping the patients, and if you’re not helping the patients, all the other stuff intertwines where you’re helping them or their families. It has a benefit towards them.

Like the Tree of Life, you go and volunteer for that, but it’s giving back to the patients and their families. It’s just a never-ending circle.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There are so many. There was one patient who had dementia…They can be a little bit more demanding than you might understand, but if you were in that situation you would probably be the same. It was a learning experience on my part.

There was also a woman in the Care Center who was here for a while who was very nice. She always wanted to know what was going on outside her little room, not just what was on TV. She was very nice because I would always have a conversation with her. But even if they can’t talk, I enjoy it.

Give a little more on #GivingTuesday

Most people know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday but do you know about #GivingTuesday? The global day of giving will take place on Tuesday, December 1, and Angela Hospice is one of over 30,000 partners in 68 countries participating. Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y #GivingTuesday was inspired by the core Jewish value of tikkun olam, which means, “repairing the world.”

#GivingTuesday is all about doing just that: giving; and there are a variety of ways to do that. Give your time. Give some money to your favorite charity (Donate to Angela Hospice here.). Write a wonderful review online about the work one of the #GivingTuesday organizations is doing. It doesn’t matter how or what exactly you do, all that matters is that you give. 

Another way to participate in #GivingTuesday is by taking an #UNselfie. (Download the flyer here.) Take a photo of yourself and put why you are supporting Angela Hospice on #GivingTuesday. Be sure to tag us on Facebook and Twitter so we can put your photo in our growing #UNselfie album! If you have any questions, please contact Dana Casadei at (734) 953-6053 or email dcasadei@angelahospice.us

A Breath of Fresh Air

Mary (far right) with her three sisters and her dad, Norman.
For Mary Jardine having her dad’s hospice care set up in the living room made life a little easier, and a little funnier.

“It was just funny because it was like a drive-through,” she laughed. “It’s a family joke. That’s how we (the family) get through a lot of things; we have to have a sense of humor.”

Laughter is after all the best medicine, and one that’s helped Mary and her family after the passing of her dad, Norman.

Norman was an Angela Hospice patient for about a month-and-a-half before dying in August, a day before his 88th birthday.

While Norman, who had diabetes and dementia, lived with Mary, it was her other sister, a nurse, who often took him to his doctor appointments and noticed how rapidly he was losing weight. Mary said that her sister talked to the doctor about hospice and then took the necessary steps to see if Norman qualified, which he did. Angela Hospice started coming to the house soon after.

Mary, a Livonia resident, said that being local played a part in choosing Angela Hospice for Norman.

“I was just so amazed by how quick everything went,” Mary said. “You’d call them and they were right there. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, we have to set up an appointment.’ It wasn’t like that.”

Not only was Angela Hospice there for Norman, who was very family-oriented, but Mary and her family received support as well.

“It’s such a special group of people [at Angela Hospice],” she said.

Prior to this Mary had no other hospice experience so at first she felt like putting Norman in hospice would be giving up on him. She also thought that hospice was only for people with cancer. She quickly learned neither was true.

“They always made me feel important,” Mary said. “I would always feel bad because I couldn’t do this or that for him and they would say, ‘Don’t feel bad.”

With Angela Hospice’s help Mary was able to go to work -- she works midnights as a pharmacy tech at Henry Ford -- and feel comfortable, knowing her dad was in good hands.

Mary said between Angela Hospice staff and loved ones there were constantly people there, which her dad really enjoyed. A particular moment that stands out is when Deacon Roger O’Donnell gave him Holy Communion and said a prayer with him. Norman was a very religious man.

“My dad loved that because he knew what was going on,” she said.

During his final days Mary said that he wasn’t really talking and had a glazed look over his eyes, a very normal part of the disease process when the body is shutting down. It was like he was physically there but not mentally.

“I don’t think he really knew what was going on,” Mary said.

But he did remember his grandson, Michael.

“We swear he was waiting for Michael to come and see him before he passed,” she said. “We think that’s what happened. Michael came Tuesday and he died on Thursday.”

When asked about what advice she would give to someone going through something similar she kept it simple.

“Go for it,” she said. “Once hospice came in it was like a breath of fresh air.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Geri Orlowski

Name: Geri Orlowski

How long have you been a volunteer?
Four years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center, receptionist, mailings, and events.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I took an early retirement. It was like, “What am I going to do?” I also work at the Felician nuns’ down the road. They were part of my childhood growing up, but I live across the street, and I was like, “This is too good to be true.”

I mean, here’s Angela Hospice, here are the Felician nuns, and I perused each one. I had to pursue them. That’s where I wanted to work, at Angela [Hospice].

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Probably that little bit you’re able to do for someone else that doesn’t come with big recognition; you just kind of feel good walking away.

Geri often works the phones in the Care Center.

Congrats to Volunteer Bernadette O’Neill!

This week one of our volunteers, Bernadette O’Neill, was recognized as a Distinguished Volunteer at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Annual Philanthropy Day Dinner!

Bernadette is being honored for her work with the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, where she works in the development department.

Bernadette also volunteers in the development department at Angela Hospice, and has been a volunteer here for over a decade.

“Bernadette has been so generous to Angela Hospice; sharing not only her time, but her formidable skills and wisdom with our team in the development department,” said Robert Alexander, Angela Hospice Director of Development. “She is one of those rare volunteers who knows her way very well around a computer and is able to multiply our efforts acknowledging and thanking donors for their heartfelt financial support for our hospice work.

“We are so proud of Bernadette’s spirit of volunteerism and congratulate her wholeheartedly!” he continued.

Distinguished Volunteers are nominated by local organizations to recognize the time and energy that each volunteer devotes to the day-to-day operations and successes of their organization over the past year.

“Bernadette has generously given her time and talents in many areas, and has accumulated over 1,500 hours during her time here,” said Syndie Best, Angela Hospice Director of Volunteer Services. “Bernadette does her volunteer work with compassion and professionalism, and is faithful and dedicated in all she does. She is a true asset to Angela Hospice!”

Congratulations Bernadette! Thank you for all the work you do at Angela Hospice and for the Capuchin Friars!

Celebrate Our Veterans!

(Left to right): Darlene Bublin, U.S. Air Force; Margot Parr, U.S. Army;
and Marian Ross, U.S. Navy.
Today we recognize all veterans as part of Veterans Day. As proud Level 2 members of the nationwide We Honor Veterans program, we are honored to serve our veterans all year.

We would also like to say a special thank you to all our Angela Hospice staff and volunteers who served in the armed forces, including:
  • Darlene Bublin
  • Jan Eskin
  • John Michalski
  • Margot Parr
  • Marian Ross
  • John Stern
Thank you to all who have served our country!

“It Is The Veteran”

It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
Is it the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.
It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to assemble.
It is the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Veteran, who salutes the flag.
It is the Veteran, who serves under the flag.

God bless us all.

Tending the Hospice Garden

By: Kate McNamara, Angela Hospice Volunteer

Anyone who has been on the Angela Hospice grounds in the warmer months can’t help but notice the beautiful flowers. Eugene Gorczyca is one of the volunteers contributing his time and talent to that remarkable view.

  Eugene tends to the Angela Hospice flowers.
He has his routine starting with the roses at the main entrance. He follows along the contours of the Care Center taking special care of the roses. He waters all the flowers, clipping and weeding as he makes his way around the building. Next, he goes inside the Care Center to care for the flowers in the interior courtyards. Finally, he goes back outside to the front grounds from the Holy Family statue to the Pergola. He completes this flower circuit two to three times a week. During the hot July days, he does this every other day. At the idea he makes the place beautiful, he quickly responded: “There’s no me in this, it takes a village.”

Eugene’s wife Dolores was an Angela Hospice volunteer too before she received Angela Hospice care at home after developing a brain tumor. She died in 2005. In 2007, Eugene began the volunteer training at Angela Hospice. 

“I did it to repay Angela Hospice for how they treated my wife,” he said. “What can I say about Angela Hospice? It’s a wonderful place to be involved in.”

Having experienced it himself, Eugene wants people to know that “your loved ones can be taken care of at home or at the Care Center, and the family members will be taken care of too.”

“Life is precious, and it’s good to see people at the end-of-life receive the measure of reward and comfort that hospice provides,” he continued.

Eugene does this by the many areas he volunteers in at Angela Hospice. He delivers medications and other items to home care patients. He has also helped at the Walk of Remembrance, has decorated Christmas trees in the Care Center, and has worked at the Tree of Life with his daughter Peggy Sund, a fellow Angela Hospice volunteer and one of his six children. Eugene also volunteers at a hospice in Florida, where he spends half the year. Dolores also volunteered there.

Eugene is a WWII Navy veteran, and
is excited to become involved in the
We Honor Veterans program.
As a WWII Navy veteran, Gorczyca is excited about becoming involved in the We Honor Veterans program at Angela Hospice. 

“Veterans are often forgotten by society,” Eugene said. “It’s a good feeling to sit down with them and bring back memories of their service days so they know there are still people who appreciate all they’ve done.”

Eugene is retired from Ford, but he doesn’t understand the concept of spending retirement years retiring from life.

“I like to read, do puzzles, but you can just do so much of that,” he said.

He enjoys volunteering at Angela Hospice and the sense of a task well done. Of volunteering, he said with a smile, “I recommend it highly, in any way or form. You will be rewarded by doing things for others. And then come 5 o’clock, you can enjoy the spirit of your choice.” 

One of Eugene’s fondest memories of Angela Hospice involves Sister Giovanni. He talks about a time when he first started volunteering at Angela Hospice. He was working on the grounds on a Saturday afternoon. Sister Giovanni walked by and asked how he was by name. Half-an-hour later she came by again holding a milkwood stem in her hand. She told him, “See this leaf, and this little guy here, from this you will get a butterfly.”

Another example of how things turn beautiful. It starts with the little things.

Angela Hospice offers free holiday workshops for all ages

Sofia and Elliana Poulos
Grief is tough at any age. And the holidays can complicate those feelings. That’s why Angela Hospice has developed a series of events for those processing a loss during the holiday season.

On Sunday, November 8, the team will hold a free presentation for adults entitled Getting Through the Holidays, from 2:30-4 p.m., at Angela Hospice. This lecture will provide helpful ideas on how to make the holidays easier while dealing with a loss.

For children there is a holiday workshop that will provide a special way to remember a loved one during the holidays.

“Children often feel alone in their grief,” said Bereavement Social Worker Sally Loughrin, who specializes in working with grieving children. “Participating in grief support groups provides an avenue for them to be with others who have had similar losses.”

Loughrin will host Angela Hospice’s Children’s Holiday Workshop for ages 5-12 on Sunday, December 13, from 2-4 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to craft a special holiday wreath, incorporating memories of their loved one into the holiday season, and into their lives, in a new way.

“Making the wreaths is a fun way to create a project and is another way for children to work through those uncomfortable feelings related to grief,” Loughrin said.

Supplies will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring photos or other decorations that have special meaning to them, to include in their project. Pizza and cookies will be served as well.

All workshops will take place at the Angela Hospice Care Center located at 14100 Newburgh Road in Livonia. The workshops are free, but reservations are required for the children’s workshop due to limited space. Sign up by calling Sally Loughrin at (734) 464-2683.

For more information about Angela Hospice’s grief support programs, including a complete list of support groups, visit AskForAngela.com or call (734) 464-7810.

Volunteer Spotlight: Joyce Doyle

Name: Joyce Doyle

How long have you been a volunteer?
About a year.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
My mom was here [at the Angela Hospice Care Center]. She passed away in January 2014 and I just thought it was such a great sanctuary for people to be.

Joyce volunteers in the Angela Hospice Care Center.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Learning from the patients.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There is a patient here, he says very little, but there are some times when he reacts, and the most he’s ever said to me is “Howdy!” But if I take his picture from when he was in the Air Force and I show it to him, he laughs and laughs. He’s adorable.

Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Judd

Name: Beth Judd

How long have you been a volunteer?
Three years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Care Center and spiritual care.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
My mom passed away, and I was with her when she passed, and it was a very profound, beautiful experience for me. It was sad, but it was so moving. I knew that I wanted to be able to bring some comfort to people because to me it wasn’t just sad, it was very spiritual.

Why Angela Hospice?
Because Angela's is in Livonia and I live in Livonia. That’s how I got here.

Beth often volunteers in spiritual care.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
How rewarding it is. To be able to give someone comfort is the most rewarding experience you can have, and it’s such a beautiful environment here.

At a time when people feel that they couldn’t possibly find comfort, if you’re able to do that, that’s the best gift of all.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There was a gentleman who was transitioning, and he was on my list for spiritual care. I went in and he was unconscious. He wasn’t able to communicate with me. I leaned over in his ear and I whispered to him and soothed him. I stayed with him for a half an hour. When I would stop he would start to moan or thrash again but when I would say, “Shh, you’re OK. I’m gonna stay with you,” he would calm down. It was a wonderful feeling.

He had family, they just weren’t here, and he was cared for. He was clean. All I could think of was, 'what if that was my loved one?' and they were having a difficult time, and somebody came in and calmed them. I would want that for my loved one. It was just a great experience for me.

Benefactor Spotlight: The Riley Foundation

The Riley Foundation was honored
at last year’s Light Up a Life Gala.
We are so deeply grateful for the continued support of The Riley Foundation as the elite “HOST” sponsor for this week’s Light Up A Life benefit dinner. For those who are unfamiliar with the longstanding relationship between Mr. George Riley and Angela Hospice please read below.

George Riley’s history with the Felician Sisters did not begin with Angela Hospice. It extends back to his childhood. His father, Frank Riley, worked as chief engineer for the Sisters for 36 years. Mr. Riley has many fond memories of growing up on the Felician grounds, where his family lived in a house still known today as “The Riley House.”

Mr. Riley went on to serve four years in Navy Aviation, before opening a television repair shop in the 1950s. One of George’s first projects was to wire Detroit public school classrooms for DPTV Channel 56’s educational programming.

As time went on, Mr. Riley’s small shop grew into a staff of over 500 and eventually became Clover Technologies, Inc. In 1998, Mr. Riley sold Clover Technologies to Ameritech, but he retained the Wixom building which housed his world headquarters, eventually selling it to Channel 56 in 2005. Things came full circle for George, when after a generous donation to Channel 56, they dubbed their broadcast center “The Riley Broadcast Center.”

The Riley Foundation’s guests
at an Angela Hospice event. 
George married his late wife Dolores in 1952. They had six children together, Daniel, Gary (deceased), George Jr., Michael (deceased), William and Kimberly.

With their generous natures, the Rileys have found fulfillment in helping others through contributions to health and educational causes. They have a special interest in Angela Hospice, as George’s wife Dolores and both of his parents received Angela Hospice’s care.

That’s A Wrap

While guests view the auction and raffle baskets at this Friday’s Light Up a Life Gala, two volunteers will be taking a much deserved break.

Carolyn Arlen and Kate Uberti have spent countless hours in the basement of Angela Hospice putting those baskets together over the last few weeks: making sure every item is showcased, double-checking that auction items won’t fall out when the basket is picked up, and using the right colors so nothing clashes.

Kate Uberti (left) and Carolyn Arlen (right) have spent
the last few weeks creating dozens of baskets.
“They not only have to look pretty but they have to be ergonomically correct,” Carolyn said.

That means doing much more than just putting some items in a basket, throwing a bow on it, and calling it done. The average basket takes them about 20 minutes to create, but there are others that take much longer. Kate said one basket took her nearly an hour because items kept falling over. Carolyn has experienced items that are tricky to incorporate too.

Luckily though, they have each other.

Being able to work together is a key to their success, and both women laugh when asked about why they think they make such a good team, saying they aren’t sure. But, after some thought, they both agree that they’ve learned to work off of each other’s strengths.

“I’ve tried to mimic her creative vibe, and she’s tried to mimic my ability to structure,” Kate said.

“See, it’s like an old married couple,” Carolyn laughed. “But I think basically we just lucked out. We’re both pretty creative.”

Both women also have the same work ethic, Kate said. They put their noses down and get to work, which is essential when you have dozens of baskets to create.

While their strengths differ they have a similar process when it comes to creating baskets. First, they have to figure out all the components of the gift. Then, the search is on for what they’re going to display it in. After that, they have to create some sort of base for everything to rest on, like crumbled up paper. Next, they start anchoring items by wiring or taping them in. They’ve even had to sew a few items in. Last, and this is Carolyn’s favorite part, they have to dress it up and add all the color and the bows.

“To me, that’s kind of it,” Kate said.

“Ditto!” Carolyn laughed.

While the work is hard both said that it’s fun to see all the items before everyone else, a prime time to pick which items they want to bid on, and pick a favorite. Kate’s partial to the stuffed Peanuts gang all dressed in University of Michigan clothing. Carolyn really likes an artistic ceramic bowl.

It’s hard to believe that this is only the third time they’ve worked together, and that they haven’t been friends for decades.

One of Kate's favorite baskets, which also took
nearly an hour to create.
Neither Carolyn nor Kate had any experience in creating gift baskets before. Well, Kate does them for friends, but never at this capacity. It was a slightly daunting task when they did this for the first time for Angela Hospice’s Laughter Lifts You Up earlier this year, an event that had 1,000 women in attendance and nearly 90 baskets to create. That was also the first time the two had met.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe the two of us are doing this,” said Kate, who was nervous at first.

She wasn’t alone.

“That first day I left, I had a headache and I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’” Carolyn said.

But the next day she decided to come in with a different attitude, which made all of the difference.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I’m a volunteer and I can do the best I can.’ Then you start to get the hang of it,” Carolyn continued.

“You get better as you go,” Kate said.

Now they can take items and make them look irresistible.

“Because of the way we wrapped it,” Carolyn said.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Gross

Name: Kathy Gross

How long have you been a volunteer?
Almost a year.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center and mailings.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I’ve driven by here for ages. I always saw it and thought it would be nice to do volunteer work but I was working at the time. Then my husband and I retired in 2011, and I lost him in July 2013. That was rough, and I said, “I need to do something with myself.”

I always get more out of doing for somebody; you get so much more back. So I thought, I’ll go see what that’s all about. I honestly didn’t know in the beginning if I could do this or not. I thought, I’ll just try it; and I’m so glad I did. It’s just such a rewarding feeling that you’ve put a smile on somebody’s face.

I just feel glad that I had the opportunity to get to know them a little bit or make it a little nicer for them when I was there.

Kathy (left) with Angela Hospice staff Melanie Miller.
Why Angela Hospice?
Just from driving by it, and I had always heard the name. But in driving by, I went, “Oh, there’s Angela Hospice.” When I thought about how I need to do something or I should try doing something…this is only ten minutes from my house, and I thought, ok, let’s just check it out and see what it’s about. It fit.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I think just knowing that I’m maybe, not always, but maybe able to help somebody else that needs some attention or someone to talk to. Or aside from the patients themselves, that I’m taking a little bit of a load off of the staff.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There’s this patient with dementia, and every once in a while he’ll say a word or something, but not too much, and he can feed himself but it takes forever. I enjoy being with him.

I was in the other day for a meeting and I got here too early so I walked around and he was there, and they were feeding him. I just love going in and saying, “Ben! How are you doing?”*

With certain people he will smile. He doesn’t have a full smile but he gets a smile when he’s recognizing you or he’s happy or whatever the case may be.

Many will say that they’re glad I came in to visit them, and that’s always nice. But Ben really stands out in my head. You can tell when he’s connecting.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy

Becoming the Cookie Lady

Pam Shorter didn’t want to volunteer for hospice.

"At first I thought, 'I don't want to deal with people at the end of life. No, that's depressing!'" she said.

And yet, Pam is now six years into her career as an Angela Hospice volunteer.

It was a friend at church that suggested she volunteer at Angela Hospice. Pam didn't know how she wanted to help, but she took the training class anyway. That's where she heard about Alberta Karll, affectionately known around these parts as "the Pie Lady." Alberta bakes pies each week in the Care Center family kitchen for patients and visitors.

When Pam heard this she was inspired: "I said, 'Well, what about muffins?'"

Pam can be found in the Care Center kitchen
every week.
Now Pam comes in weekly too, along with Alberta, to bake all sorts of goodies for patients and their guests. She's even been recognized out in public as "the Cookie Lady."

The appreciation that patients and families express for her freshly baked goods is humbling and heartwarming, she said.

"Angela Hospice was there for my dad, so I think it's important to give back," she continued.

It was in 2007 that Pam's father was enrolled in Angela Hospice's home care program. While he was only under hospice care for a few days, Pam was grateful for the support and care he received.

"I would definitely say those three days made an impact on me," she said. "They left a favorable impression on my mind."

There are memories of cooking for her dad too, an experience that is now echoed as she cooks and bakes for others at Angela Hospice.

Her banana cream pie is a favorite, as are her oatmeal cranberry walnut cookies. In summertime there's the refreshing lemon blueberry crumble. Winter sees her cranberry pie and cherry streusel coffee cake.

"They're just simple things, comfort food," Pam said. "But you're sharing it with important people, friends. It's heartwarming."

And so is Pam's caring and generosity.­­