Volunteer Spotlight: Marge Adkins

Marge, first row right, at last year's
Laughter Lifts You Up.
Name: Marge Adkins

How long have you been a volunteer?
14 years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do?
In the development (fundraising) office and helps out at annual events.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I heard about Angela Hospice from friends, and I thought it would interest me to be able to help somebody. So I thought I would volunteer and do what I could in any little way.

Marge at registration for
Light Up A Life.
Favorite part about volunteering?
Being with the people and knowing that everybody’s here to help those who need it.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
When I was working the Tree of Life one year I was sitting there and all of a sudden someone came up behind me and gave me a peck on the cheek. I was so startled. I turned around and it was this young gentleman, he was about 19 or 20. He said, “That’s for all the good and the help you did for my grandmother when she was in hospice.” That left such a wonderful feeling. That’s embedded in my memory.

Angela Hospice welcomes new President & CEO: Margot Parr

Angela Hospice has blossomed over the past 30 years through the vision and great compassion of its foundress, Sister Mary Giovanni. Now that Sister Giovanni has stepped down to focus on her international ministries, Angela Hospice begins a new chapter under the guidance of new president and CEO, Margot Parr.

Margot accepted the role as Angela Hospice’s leader in January 2015, after a national search was conducted by Felician Services, Inc., to find a new president/CEO.

For Margot, it feels like coming home. She volunteered at Angela Hospice a decade ago, and at that time even wrote a letter to Sister Giovanni asking about employment. “I’m happy to do anything,” she said. “I’m happy to work anywhere. I just know that I want to be a part of your organization and I want to be a part of your good work.”

She would wait ten years, meanwhile serving as executive director for Jewish Home and Aging Services, then operations consultant with Trinity Continuing Care Services, and finally as senior executive director for Evangelical Homes of Michigan. She also worked in a unique partnership with Arbor Hospice providing operational oversight and consultation for the Arbor Hospice Residence.

Then one day this past summer, a friend told her: “You know, they just posted your job on a national search engine.”

Margot hadn’t been looking for a new job, but when she found out it was Angela Hospice, she knew she had to go for it.

“Sometimes you just feel like you were led; that God leads you in a direction; that God puts you in a place you’re supposed to be,” Margot said. “I felt really connected and always wanted to be a part of Angela Hospice.”

Margot submitted her resume, and was contacted for an interview.

“I actually had to go to Chicago to interview for a job that is two miles from my house!” she said.

In January, the search committee announced Margot would begin her first day at Angela Hospice on February 9 – a day ten years in the making.

“Sister Giovanni was here to meet me when I came in for my first day. That was really to me the most special thing,” said Margot, who is eager to carry on Sister Giovanni’s caring legacy.

Looking toward the future, Margot has said she will focus on making Angela Hospice a strong, viable, and growing organization, that will continue to be an innovator in the hospice field.

Sister M. Barbara Ann Bosch, CEO of Felician Services, Inc., said Margot was chosen for her “strong business acumen, financial expertise, years of health care experience and faith-based organizational leadership, along with her passion for hospice care.” Angela Hospice’s Executive Director Mary Beth Moning, who served as interim president and CEO as the search was conducted, is also pleased to welcome Margot to this role.

“Margot embraces our Felician core values and the mission of Angela Hospice,” Mary Beth said. “Her respect for Sister Giovanni’s vision and her eagerness to continue Sister’s legacy makes Margot a wonderful fit for our organization.”

“As its first lay leader, I will represent Angela Hospice with compassion and great respect for the organization and its history,” Margot said. “I am honored to move this great tradition forward.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Sandy Burton

Name: Sandy Burton

How long have you been a volunteer?
28 years

What areas do you work in/what tasks do you do?
She used to do patient care, now she makes soup once a week for residents and their families.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I had taken care of my mom at home for 16 years and I contacted Angela Hospice and got three months of home care for her. Then because they did such a wonderful job, and I was so dedicated to them, I decided I’d like to volunteer there.

I was told I could but I had to wait a year. So I came and worked, did patient care in the old building for about three years. Then I decided, you know, they have a lot of people that do this (patient care) why don’t I just make soup for the families so that they don’t have to leave the bedside. I started to make a variety of soup at first but then I found that the residents, when they couldn’t handle anything from the kitchen anymore, they would take some broth. So I decided to start just making chicken noodle soup because that is a comfort soup. So that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Favorite part about volunteering?
The hugs and being aware of the care the residents really get here. They care as much for the family as they do their residents. I think that’s very important because it’s a very difficult time for the families.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I guess I really don’t have a special story because every day that I come is special.

Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy Schiffman

Nurse Paula Schrock-Bending with volunteer 
Nancy Schiffman
Name: Nancy Schiffman

How long have you been a volunteer?

Six-and-a-half years.

What areas do you work in/what tasks do you do?

Patient and family care in the Care Center, bereavement, and fundraising.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?

After my husband passed away I felt very good that I was able to do the things he had always talked about wanting to be done at his funeral. That made me feel good that I was able to do that. At first I was thinking I could help other people by helping them make sure their funeral services were what they wanted. Although I’ve never had that conversation with anybody that idea did make me start thinking about volunteering somewhere. So here I am.

Why Angela Hospice?

I’ve lived in Livonia since I was four and I watched it get built. I worked at St. Mary’s and watched the whole Angela Hospice come to what it is now. I feel like I’ve watched it grow.

Thinking back, one of my papers when I was a senior in high school was about Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross. I thought about that about three years after I started volunteering here. I heard her name in relation to Sister Giovanni’s name and I probably hadn’t even thought of her since I was in high school. It was just exciting to hear that Sister was on the same level as her, if not higher.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

Definitely talking with the families and patients. Every week that I’m here I have a conversation with somebody or I help somebody that reaffirms why I come back every time. I can safely say that happens every Wednesday night. It reaffirms why I’m here, when you can help them any way.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
Nancy with Volunteer Services Manager Syndie Best
and Angela Hospice foundress Sister Mary Giovanni
I have so many. A funny one was at an Arbor Day Ceremony and this big, old motorcycle rolls in and this guy gets off. He’s coming over to the ceremony and someone said, “Nancy, would you like to sit with him?” I look and I said, “Sure, I’ll sit with him.” Well, it turns out this big, ol’ gruff-looking motorcycle guy had taken care of his mother the last two years of her life. He had such unbelievable stories and it was his first time since he had lost her that he had talked about her. So he wound up staying for a couple hours after the ceremony and everything. We just sat and talked, and that was incredible.

But everyone at first was like, “Oh my gosh, this big, bad motorcycle guy!” And here he was this huge, phenomenal caregiver to his mother. It was just not the image that you would think of when you saw him. And to find out that was his first opportunity to talk about his mother since she had died, with anybody…I felt very honored with that. I was at the right place, at the right time, which happens with a lot of our families here. It’s just incredible to have the opportunity to talk with people when the timing is right.

I find that too with the fundraising that I’ve gotten involved in. As you go out into the community, and just mention the Angela Hospice name, it’s amazing how generous businesses are. I never, ever thought I would get into anything like fundraising. It’s so easily accomplished when you go in there with your Angela Hospice badge on, and it literally just sells itself. And people start talking then too.

It’s gotten me involved with a lot more things than I ever thought I would in my life. As far as visiting with the families and stuff like that I’ve always worked in healthcare but I’ve always been in the paperwork end of things with admissions and billing and things like that. My family’s kind of medical and having always worked in the hospital setting like that it just feels comfortable.

Memories From a Front Room

By: Dana Casadei, Angela Hospice Volunteer

There isn’t a big, neon sign for it when you walk in. No display or memorial of any kind either. What seems like a regular room in a suburban house to most people is a lot more than that to Barbara Ziegler. Her front room is where she and her husband Marvin spent their last days together during his time in Angela Hospice home care.

Maybe it’s all the pictures on display. Or the pastel chalk pieces that Barbara created proudly hanging on the walls. Or how all the natural light coming in makes the house feel warm and cozy. But more than likely it’s Barbara herself, who makes you feel like you’re in your own home as soon as you arrive.

Barbara and her husband, Marvin, at a Christmas
event over 20 years ago.
Barbara has lived in her Livonia home for 50 years, where she and her husband Marvin watched their three sons grow up. Marvin, who everyone called Marv, went through Angela Hospice’s home care program in 2004. The room our interview was conducted in was Marvin’s makeshift bedroom. There are no wires or tubes in the room now, but a lot of pictures from the holidays waiting to be put into frames and scrapbooks, many of Barbara’s first grandchild.

“He couldn’t sleep in a regular bed,” she said, which is why his home care was set up in the front room.

Earlier that year Marvin had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was scheduled for surgery. While doing a chest X-ray before said surgery, the doctors discovered he had lung cancer. According to Barbara there were three spots on his lung. Only two were taken out during the surgery, and the third grew. Marvin had treatments for about a year but they didn’t work, Barbara said.

She found out on Mother’s Day that Marvin would be placed in home care.

“That was hard. Now I hate Mother’s Day when it comes around,” she said with a slight laugh.

Barbara may hate Mother’s Day but she knew that she would be able to have the help of her three sons if Marvin was in home care, which played a large role in the decision. One son, Brian, slept next to his dad on the couch during his time on home care, even though there was another perfectly good bed in the house. This way if his father woke up in the middle of the night someone was there.

While the experience was tough at times, Barbara only had wonderful things to say about her experience with the care she and Marvin received from Angela Hospice, even the parts that were a little rougher to talk about.

“They were very good at taking care of him,” she said. “I did nothing. They took care of everything when they came.”

A nurse came two or three times a week for Marvin, but Barbara said that when they needed the on-call nurse she was there immediately.

He was in home care for almost a month before he died at 62.

“I knew what my husband went through,” Barbara said. “I thought he was in a better place.”

While Barbara and Marvin stayed home during his final days, the two traveled all over the world together during their 40 years of marriage. They went everywhere from Europe to Australia. Barbara tells each story with the same warm smile that makes her eyes crinkle around the edges. But that’s how she tells every story about her family, with just as much love and enthusiasm as the last.

Her involvement with Angela Hospice didn’t stop with Marvin’s passing. In addition to having her father and sister in the Angela Hospice Care Center, Barbara had attended the memorial services and group grief counseling. She still frequently donates and attends some of Angela Hospice’s yearly events.

The 73-year-old, who doesn’t feel nearly that old, has participated in the Walk of Remembrance multiple times, and attended the Arbor Day Ceremony where she had a stone laid in Marvin’s memory.

There is one event that Barbara continues to participate in yearly though, the Tree of Life. She has been doing it since the Tree of Life began in 1986.

“It’s been quite a while,” she said. “I keep adding more angels though.”

So why keep donating to Angela Hospice? Because she believes in the cause, simple as that.

“They do good things there. They take care of people well,” Barbara said. “I would recommend Angela Hospice to everyone.”

One Moment, a Lifetime of Memories

By: Phyllis Jason, Care Center Receptionist

Joanne Galloway has a special gift of drawing portraits of people. She uses this gift to create beautiful colored-pencil pictures of hospice patients for their friends and family. With this unique talent she captures vivid and emotional images of powerful moments.

She began in 2005. Joanne had just finished her volunteer training at Angela Hospice when her brother was admitted and passed away at Angela Hospice. She was so moved by the compassionate and loving care her brother received during that time she put her talent to work and drew her first portrait for Angela Hospice.

“I drew a portrait of Saint Pope John Paul which was displayed in the lobby of the old hospice building,” said Joanne. “It provided a good demonstration of my work in hopes of motivating requests. Since then I have completed 256 portraits for grieving friends and families.”

Images of the deceased can only be drawn from photographs. Joanne usually requests several pictures, if possible, to help get the closest sense of the subject’s personality. The more information she receives, the better she can capture of the essence of the person.

“The finished portrait’s accuracy is totally dependant on the quality of the photographs or images. Generally I have learned to work with some very out-of-focus images,” says Joanne.

Joanne receives many requests from other family members when they see her work.

“I always respond to any requests from any person who is grieving,” said Joanne, who is frequently reminded of the impact her gift has on those she shares it with. “I have received floods of thank you notes describing the effects of my work.”

Joanne says one situation that stands out in her mind is a grandmother who was gravely ill and prayed with her son that she would last until her new grandchild was born and she could hold both the new baby and the baby’s brother on her lap. But it was not meant to be.

“I drew a portrait of the deceased grandmother and included in the portrait the baby and the baby’s brother, placing both children on the grandmother’s lap,” said Joanne. The woman’s son sent Joanne a letter expressing his gratitude and wrote: “You have made something that didn’t happen, happen.”

Joanne has received numerous responses much like this, many from children who have lost parents and siblings. Joanne generally is contacted through Angela Hospice social workers who provide support for the grieving families.

“I always accept [the requests], with great joy and appreciation for the work,” said Joanne.

Joanne has photographed every single one of her completed portraits and keeps a portfolio. One portrait stands out to Joanne more than any she has done over the years.

“One portrait that will remain in my heart is the portrait I did of an infant who passed away at eight days after birth. The infant passed away in her mother’s arms,” said Joanne.

She calls her work “Memories Ministries.” She says she is “dedicated to alleviating emotional suffering” and capturing the moment that lasts a lifetime!