Volunteer Spotlight: Debbie Antosiewic

Name: Debbie Antosiewic

How long have you been a volunteer?
20 years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do?
Home care and she just signed up for spiritual care. Has helped with Tree of Life, makes fleece blankets for the We Honor Veterans program, makes prayer shawls, and helps with mailings.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
A friend of mine asked me to watch her daughter while she went for volunteer classes, and when she got done that was kind of right at the beginning of hospice being in Livonia and the beginning of the building and stuff, so it had been in the paper quite a bit, and it sounded really interesting.

When she got done I said, “That sounds pretty cool.” Then I went for volunteer classes and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve been through a lot of life changes but Angela Hospice has always been at the heart of it. I’ve always felt something was wrong if I was inactive for a while and it’s like there was something missing from my life.

Why Angela Hospice?
Here, I have a lot of respect for the way things are run and I’m amazed at the volunteers. There are just so many beautiful people, giving freely of their time and talents.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
This is when I’m most close to God. When I go visit somebody at home I usually pray the whole time that I’m going there to the Holy Spirit and I say, “I’ll stay out of your way. You say the words that need to be said, or listen. Do what needs to be done.” That’s what I get out of it. I feel extremely close to God when I’m doing this because obviously, it’s not any of my qualifications that are in the room. He’s helping his children and I’m just using my hands.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
This lady has ALS and she can just move up one finger so that she can still use the computer and I have to help her to eat. She can’t speak, and still, she has a beautiful smile. She can’t move out of her wheelchair and I’ll come in and she’ll take the time to tap out with her one finger on her keyboard something like, “Wow, I like your blouse.” She can still give to others even though she’s in this place in her life where she’s had so much taken. This person has made me especially aware how everybody has a gift.

Our gift is so little. We actually are doing very little and it means so much to them.

I have to say another favorite is when you do Tree of Life, if I didn’t do it for a few years and then I did it, it’s like this is why you do this, because people would tell you their stories and they are just in a mall, getting their Christmas shopping done. And I’ve had several times where it’s been a guy that came behind the table and sat down in the empty chair and just went on and on [about his experience].

I’m always thinking I know Angela Hospice contacted you 20 times to see if you needed grief support, somebody to talk to, and you’ve probably said, “No, I’m fine.” Then they sit down at Tree of Life and they just tell you their story.

I guess the beauty I see is the families that reconcile and siblings that haven’t talked to each other in years that come together, especially in the chapel here. It’s like families get together that probably haven’t been to church in 20 years and they will still come because mom asked them to and she’s dying. It seems like it would be a sad place here and it’s not, at all. You hear families laughing and eating their soup together and it’s just like: this is the beauty of Angela Hospice. Even though something tragic is going on, this is the quality of life that we all should be having and it’s beautiful to experience.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Andrus

Name: Kathy Andrus

How long have you been a volunteer?
Five years this fall

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Bereavement, the Walk of Remembrance, and the snack cart in the Care Center.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
A while ago my church was looking for support for parishioners who had lost family members. I came here at that time and asked to go through the bereavement program, which is kind of unheard of, but I did. And I’m still here.

Why Angela Hospice?
I just love Angela Hospice. It’s a beautiful place to work. Everybody here is so friendly and nice, and it’s very flexible. That’s why I like it here, and that’s why I like to work in the bereavement department because that’s really where my passion lies.

Favorite part about volunteering?
The people. You learn quite a bit from the patients, the families, people that go through the support, and the other volunteers that you work with. So it’s just the people.

What’s one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
Probably my favorite is every now and then in the Care Center there’s a patient that that has their whole family there and they are there most of the time. They come and do the BBQs with them, they come take them for walks, and all kinds of activities. I want to say that’s my favorite. To see somebody so loved and so cared for, that they have their whole family still there supporting them.

Angela Hospice Awarded MiSHIP Grant

Angela Hospice home hospice aide
Bernadine Hillman with one of the Smart Vests.
Angela Hospice was recently awarded a $1,288 grant from the MIOSHA Safety and Health Improvement Program (MiSHIP). This grant will let us get three Slipp Patient Movers, 10 smart lift vests, and three pivot discs. All of these items will help make moving patients easier and more efficient.

Slipp patient movers let the patient (regardless of weight) move easily across a comfortable surface. Smart life vests allows for lifting and transferring patients using a horizontal lift instead of a vertical lift. Pivot discs will help patients that are able to stand but cannot readily move their legs.

MiSHIP awards employers in Michigan a dollar-for-dollar match – up to $5,000 – for projects designed to reduce the risk of injury and illness to their workers, based on safety and health site-specific hazard surveys. This reimbursement program awards grants to employers that best satisfy MiSHIP goals.

Family First, Family Always

Trying to plan family gatherings can feel impossible. Everyone is going a million miles a minute, with schedules that are constantly filled and changing. Then once you finally find a day to get everyone together there seems to always be one relative that has something last minute come up, sometimes making the process begin again. While families have the ability to make our heads spin they always show up in a time of need, no matter how packed their schedule is. For LaVerne Andreolli that time was during her mother’s stay in hospice.

Alice Grodus with her daughter LaVerne Andreolli
LaVerne’s mother, Alice, had spent a year going in and out of the hospital before being diagnosed with T-cell carcinoma lymphoma of the skin. LaVerne said Alice did treatment because “it was supposed to be treatable and not progress into anything else.” In December 2013 though, Alice was taken to the University of Michigan hospital because “something just wasn’t right,” LaVerne said. Three weeks and many tests later Alice was diagnosed with leukemia lymphoma. She received her final diagnosis on January 8, 2014. The next day she entered the Angela Hospice Care Center.

“She was progressing so quickly there was no treatment to put her through. I said, ‘I think she’s been through enough,’ and my mom agreed,” LaVerne said.

When it came to deciding whether to select home care or the Care Center LaVerne said that the Care Center made the most sense for them. LaVerne, who is an occupational therapist, said there were certain things she just wouldn’t have been able to do as her mother progressed.

“It was the best thing we could do because it gave me time to be her daughter, not a caregiver,” she said.

It also helped that family lives nearby, including Alice’s sister, Sister Agnestine Rosinski, who is a Felician and lives right by Angela Hospice.

“In her death it brought a lot of people back together,” LaVerne said. “And we still are."

Everyone from extended cousins to Alice’s siblings gathered daily during her nearly month long stay in the Care Center. LaVerne said Alice’s room was constantly filled with visitors.

But in the end, Alice passed away with only LaVerne and LaVerne’s husband, Dave, in the room with her on January 25, at 9 a.m. Alice was 87.

“It was very peaceful,” LaVerne said. “She obviously just wanted him and I there.”

LaVerne said she learned a lot during her experience with hospice.

“It makes it easier,” LaVerne said. “You have people that really care and are supportive. Any questions you have, they are right there to answer or give you some options that you may not have thought of yourself.

“It’s helpful for family members to have the support from hospice, for how to deal with the upcoming loss,” she continued.

LaVerne continues to be involved with Angela Hospice. Last year, she attended Laughter Lifts You Up, and invited the women who had been most supportive to her during her mother’s death to come with her.

“It was an enjoyable event for us women to be together in a different situation,” she said. “And also to be able to show my gratitude for what they were able to do for me.”

LaVerne has plans to attend the annual women’s event again this year and many more years to come.

“We know a lot of people whose lives have been touched by this hospice,” she said.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kyle Swider

Name: Kyle Swider

How long have you been a volunteer?
Seven years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do?
Works at the reception desk in the Care Center, and has worked at events and on the Speakers Bureau.

What made you want to become a volunteer? 
My husband and I …we just loved this place. We lived across the street and thought it was a wonderful cause. He and I were really motivated to volunteer, so we did that. We were here for the ribbon cutting of the old Care Center. We continued to support them in any way we could.

Unfortunately my husband took ill and died of brain cancer here. Then I kind of stepped away before I could come back.

I decided I couldn’t do patient care but I could certainly help out in other areas. This is my gig. I’m OK to be the first face people see as they walk through.

Favorite part about volunteering?
Getting to greet the families. That’s my favorite part because you can say, “Hi, how are you doing?” You don’t ask questions, you just direct them or answer their questions. That’s what I enjoy.

I like the people here too. I’ve always said this, but the people that work here are an exceptional breed. I believe they all have a certain amount of wings. They do come with wings, you know?

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
Probably the radio commercial. That was the best because I knew from that point on it was time to volunteer, and it was coming full circle. It was really cool. I think being able to put that out into the community with Bob was huge.

(Bob Alexander, Angela Hospice’s Business Development Manager, asked her to come in and share her story about her husband who passed at Angela Hospice. Kyle then got to record a radio commercial about her Angela Hospice experience on WOMC that ran for about 10 months.)

Portrait of a Peacemaker

For 14 years, Donna Beamish has been donating her time and talents as a volunteer at Angela Hospice. Why did she choose Angela Hospice? Because of the good things she’d heard about Angela Hospice’s care from her neighbors. Many volunteers come to Angela Hospice after a personal experience with a loved one. But for Donna, she was drawn to Angela Hospice by its reputation alone. And it was her reputation as a devoted volunteer that won her a special honor in 2013: Angela Hospice’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

Volunteer Services Manager Syndie Best describes Donna as humble, dependable, and loyal.

“Her love for Angela Hospice is demonstrated by the wonderful work she does here as a volunteer,” Best said.

Donna has given service in many areas, including computer work for the bereavement department, working on mailings, and helping with fundraising events. And while a back injury prevents her from bathing patients in the Care Center as she did for her first ten years with Angela Hospice, she has now taken over a special task: coordinating the weekly caregiver suppers for Care Center families.

Her tuna noodle casserole is a popular dish, but beyond the physical nourishment these dinners offer, she knows there is a greater value to the families that attend.

“It gives them a little peace of mind, just a little peace,” she said. “They can sit in there and get away from it a little while.”

Sometimes they even try to pay her for the food and the friendly service, but of course her reward is the experience itself.

“You feel complete,” she said. “You’re doing something for somebody else and that’s a good feeling.”

Sizzlin' Spring Raffle Preview

With just a few more weeks until our annual women’s event, Laughter Lifts You Up, take a glance at our Sizzlin’ Spring Raffle prizes. First prize is valued at over $1,000, second prize is valued at over $500, and our 12 remaining raffle prizes are all worth at least $100.

See something you really, really want? Be sure to order some raffle tickets over the phone or stop by the Angela Hospice Care Center reception desk to pick some up. You will also be able to purchase them at the event. If you have an early morning the next day don’t worry, you don’t need to be present to win.

Tickets are $5 each or 3 for $10. If you have any questions please contact Angela Hospice Events Coordinator, Helen Balmforth, at (734) 953-6045 or email hbalmforth@angelahospice.net.

Grand Prize: Outdoor Fun-Patio Set Spectacular

2 loveseat gliders; 1 end table; 1 Treasure Garden 9’ Push Button Umbrella; 4 indoor/outdoor pillows; fire pit; summer platters; wine

Steppin’ into Spring with Class and Sparkle:

First Oriental Therapy Center Lipo body contouring gift certificate; green necklace scarf; 18" Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Chain w/Rhodium plated Sterling Silver Pendant Cubic Zirconia's and Jewelry Cleaner; assorted basket of wine, cheeses, and pastas (not pictured); Vera Bradley Priscilla Pink crossbody bag; aviator sunglasses

Catching Some Rays:

Vera Bradley Sunglasses from Attractive Eyewear with a Venetian Paisley print case

Black & White is Always a Summer Classic:

Tommy Hilfiger black and white purse; Helzberg Diamonds Heart Shaped Pendant Necklace with Diamonds; black/white infinity loop scarf; jeweled sunglasses in black jeweled case

Pink and Purple:

Olivia & Joy fuchsia purse; all cotton batik homemade quilt 56” X 56;” beaded necklace; floral print spring scarf

Saugatuck Summer Getaway:

$100 gift certificate to the Kingsley House Bed and Breakfast Inn (located in Fennville, MI, near Saugatuck); Thirty-One Euro straw tote; detox foot bath gift certificate; aviator sunglasses; summer straw floppy hat

Summer Bright Delight:

Mar Y Sol yellow purse; flower of the month gift certificate from Merri-Craft Florist in Livonia; aviator sunglasses; jeweled necklace; wine napkins

You Can’t Go Wrong with Coach:

Teal blue leather Coach purse; Ralph Lauren infinity scarf; beaded necklace;sunglasses; wine napkins

Coach Purse Class:

Purple leather Coach purse; light blue/lavender infinity scarf; earrings

Wine Tasting in Style:

6 bottle in-home or business wine tasting for up to 18 people with qualified wine advisor for 2 hours; 1 bottle of Rose “N” Blum Pink Moscato;  Vera Bradley Purse featuring the Moons Blooms pattern; pink earrings

Vera Does It Again:

Basket of Vera Bradley items

Spring Is All About The Shoes:

Betsey Johnson heart necklace and 2 sets of earrings (silver tear drops and rhinestone studs); coupon from Lorla’s Women’s Shoes and Accessories for a guaranteed hostess credit to be used at your scheduled Shoe Party; aviator sunglasses

Pampered in Pink:

1 Vera Bradley purse in Pinks Swirls pattern; detox foot bath gift certificate; pink jeweled necklace; Nibble & Nuts candy platter

White Spring Sophistication:

Coach chalk purse and clutch wallet; aviator sunglasses; white jeweled necklace with matching earrings

Thanks to all our Sizzlin' Spring Raffle donors: Ken & Carol Jacobs from Patio Plus, Kate Uberti, Golden Gifts, Laurel Manor, Barbara Somerton, First Oriental Therapy/Lucy Li, Attractive Eyewear, Deborah A. Rais, Helen Balmforth, Lisa Norton, Margot Parr, Cheryl Williams, Kingsley House Bed and Breakfast Inn owner Chris Brzys, Merri-Craft Florist, Wines for Humanity, Grace Adams, Joan Harold, Michelle Kalous, Georgia Scappaticci, Nibbles & Nuts, and Peggy Cummins-Polinski.

Beyond the Call of Duty

Loran Thayer, RN
We received a lovely letter from a patient's family complimenting the work of one of our home care nurses. Read what they had to say about Angela Hospice and nurse Loran Thayer:

"Everyone we came into contact with was just great and caring. I would especially like to commend one of the ladies. Her first name is Loran. I have been with Hospice in other places and they were good also, but your facility was above and beyond what one would expect.

My daughter in law called in to report Arlene’s* passing and asked if Loran was available. The lady told her she thought Loran was off duty, but would try to reach her. About twenty minutes later, Loran showed up and told me she was sorry for the way she was dressed. She had been out shopping and when she got the call, she came right over.

What a thoughtful woman she is. I’m sure the rest of the ladies that work for you are just as caring.

Again, thank you all so much. I don’t know how I would have gotten through all this without your help."

*Name changed to protect privacy