Volunteer Spotlight: Fran Gillis

Name: Fran Gillis

How long have you been a volunteer?

Five years.

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

Patient care in the Care Center.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I thought when I retired, because I had had so many meetings and things when I was working, that I would volunteer as a speaker for hospice. But then the years went by and so many other things came up and I didn’t. Then my husband became ill, very suddenly, and we had no previous warning. None the less, when they discovered it, because there were no symptoms, he had stage four lung cancer.

To make a long story short, after many radiation treatments and a week of chemo, he became bedridden. He couldn’t walk from the summer until he passed away in November. My neighbor had said, “Don’t wait too long to get hospice, I wish I had gotten hospice before for my mother.” When I was bathing Bill, we were both soaking wet, and I thought, I need hospice. So I called Angela Hospice and they came and interviewed him. They were just a godsend to our family. They made his death so beautiful. They totally prepared us for his passing, and he had quality time with all of his children. My daughters alternated coming home to give me a hand and it worked out beautifully. He passed very peacefully. In the meantime, the girls learned a lot about their father that they never knew because they had time to sit and talk with him, and he was willing to share things that he had never shared before. It was quite a wonderful experience and I thought, that’s it, after Bill passes, I’m going to volunteer at hospice.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

The interaction with the patients. We talk a lot – I am a talker – they share a lot of things and I try to share with them. I just find the personalities intriguing. Everyone has a story. I love to read stories about people and I love people. The patients have given me such courage and such insight. I am just amazed at them, utterly amazed. I’ve met some beautiful people.

The ones that are very elderly and can’t sing, or can’t chat or visit, I sing some old songs. They remember all the words and it’s sweet. It’s really nice.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I’ve had so many wonderful patients…and they all have stories. The patient I have right now is a double amputee and she is a delightful little lady. She was a career girl all her life and she’s so cheerful and so up. The one thing that was very important to her was that she had a Cadillac. She was single, never married and she always had a Cadillac. She loves a good story. She has lots of friends that come and visit, and I’ve just enjoyed it so much. It’s been my privilege and my pleasure to talk to her.

Honor Your Loved One: Start a Walk of Remembrance Team

Click on the image to see why you should
start a Walk team!
After a couple weeks of it being hot, hot, hot outside it seems we can finally declare that summer is here. As you plan vacations and how much beach time you’ll get, we at Angela Hospice are already looking a few months ahead to our annual fall event, the Walk of Remembrance.

This September, we are hoping to exceed our past attendance and host more than 1,000 supporters. The family-friendly walk is a meaningful event for all ages, and we would love for you to consider organizing a walk team. A walk team is a group of supporters that will help you fundraise and attend the walk, which is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. on the Felician Sisters grounds. There are all sorts of events you could host this summer to fundraise for your team.

For more information please contact our Events Coordinator, Helen Balmforth, at (734) 953-6045 or hbalmforth@angelahospice.us. If you are interesting in forming a team, just ask to have an information packet sent to you or click here.

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Dziuban

Name: Mike Dziuban

How long have you been a volunteer?
Almost three years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do?
Home care and spiritual care.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
Sometimes you just have a feeling. What it was with me was I have a closed-head injury and it took some time to recover. When I did I wasn’t going back to work and I just had this strong desire to volunteer.

I actually started doing spiritual care in hospitals about eight years ago, which I still do today. After a while I was interested in Angela Hospice so I started visiting people in their home and I just love visiting the people.

Why Angela Hospice?
In a hospital they are usually in-and-out, but at Angela Hospice you’re there for the people, to be with the people, and that’s what got my attention.

It was an inner feeling to do this and I don’t know how you explain it. I came down, took the class, and I tried it and loved it. I’ve been doing it ever since.

Sometimes I’m with people for eight months but I keep visiting that same person week after week. You really develop a connection.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Visiting the people.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There was an individual I was visiting and I visited him for around eight months. You’re with them from where he’s deteriorating until the very end, but you’re with him the whole time. You sort of develop a relationship with them and the whole family. It becomes somewhat of a personal connection. You come in and you’re just open for discussion, and you’re there for him.

As they were going through tough times I was there with his wife and he was having a difficult time so I would have to help her with him. But right up until the end I would sit there and drink coffee with him once a week. It was just spending the time with him. You kind of get close, and you kind of feel some of the pain and suffering when they’re gone after you spend that much time with them. That was the one I remember the most.

One Last Ride

By: Dana Casadei

Linda Woolard is a woman of many words. Yet, when asked about the Dream Cruise held in her honor on June 3, she had a hard time describing how she felt about the day.

“I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I clapped,” Linda said. “I had every emotion you could ever have.”

The 65-year-old has attended all 21 Woodward Dream Cruises but recently entered Angela Hospice’s Care Center as a patient. Linda and her friend of 47 years, Christine Cope, both thought that Linda wouldn’t be able to attend this August’s Cruise. So the two women made a plan for their own Dream Cruise, Linda said. They would go for a drive on a really nice day, put the top of Christine’s convertible down, and get some ice cream.

It started off as a simple plan. But Christine had bigger ideas.

Start Your Engines
On June 1, Christine came to visit Linda and told her that she had called 7 Action News about her. WXYZ then got in contact with Cruis’News and shared Linda’s story, which then spread across the internet. WXYZ also put Christine in contact with the head coordinator of the Dream Cruise.

All of this led to hundreds of classic car owners making Linda’s wish come true, for one very special ride down Woodward Avenue.

Some of Linda's special items in her room, including
her Linda's Dream Cruise sign.
“To see all the cars…just to hear the roar of the motors…it was awesome,” Linda said. “It was so exciting.”

The day began around 11 a.m. when Linda and Christine arrived to see a massive parking lot full of classic cars. Linda said that the cars were all parked in rows and they cruised up and down. While they drove by, people cheered and clapped for Linda. Some even asked for her autograph.

“My friend got on the megaphone and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!’” Linda said. “That roar [of the cars], I mean, it got me. It was chill-inducing.”

The rest of the afternoon included a ride down Woodward, something the two women have done since the late ‘60s. The group then had lunch at Duggan’s Irish Pub, where they took over most of the restaurant, before getting back on the road.

The segment on Linda’s Dream Cruise, which originally aired June 8, got so much attention that WXYZ 7 did a follow-up interview with Linda and Christine via Skype, which you can watch here. Linda said that seeing herself on TV was a very surreal experience.

A Different Kind of Ride
Driving up and down Woodward Avenue has special meaning to Linda and Christine. It started as a way to chase boys around, Linda said. But over the years it’s become a safe haven, where if either woman was having a rough week they could take a ride down Woodward and everything would be OK. Needless to say, the duo has been through a lot together, including Linda’s decision to enter hospice care.

After a serve infection in Linda’s foot caused her to lose her leg last year she entered a rehabilitation center. Then her insurance ran out, so she was moved to extended care in a nursing home. In the middle of this her husband suddenly died.

“I was depressed because I lost my leg. My husband died. Then the cat got sick and we had to put him down,” Linda said. “It was like, OK, I’ve had enough.”

Linda has multiple photo albums from her Dream Cruise.
Christine, a retired social worker, was actually the one that suggested Angela Hospice to Linda and told her what a beautiful and awesome place it was. After much thought Linda decided to go off dialysis for kidney failure and enter the Care Center. She said the Care Center has been a blessing.

Linda isn’t the typical kidney failure patient though. According to her doctor, a person in kidney failure normally lives about two weeks after they go off dialysis. Our interview was on the two-week mark.

“I still feel good,” Linda said. “Normally by now you wouldn’t be feeling well. It’s just…really weird.”

“I have to believe that it’s the power of prayer because I don’t know what else is going on,” she continued.

When asked what sort of advice she would give to people that have a loved one going through a similar experience, she teared up immediately.

“Support them, even if you don’t understand their decision,” she said. “If it doesn’t seem right to you, support them [anyway] because they need it. They need all the love and support you can give them.”

Luckily, Linda does have the support of friends like Christine and her Angela Hospice team, who she says are like family to her.

“There’s not one person I have encountered that is not very kind and very compassionate,” Linda said. “What better way is there to go out than with the love and care that’s here?”

Art Van Charity Challenge: Bonus Challenge #5

Like the rock band Europe sang, "It's the final countdown."
Photo source.
The final countdown has begun. We are now in the last week of the Art Van Charity Challenge and there’s one bonus challenge left.

Since the Challenge began four weeks ago we’ve raised over $9,100 but we still have work to do to make it into the top ten and win the Art Van grant. Of course all the money we raise will directly help fund Angela Hospice’s compassionate grief support services for children and adults.

The final bonus challenge will run until 1:59 p.m. on June 22, which is also when the Challenge ends. Every charity that raises at least $100 this week will be entered for a chance to win $1,000. Every charity that raises at least $400 will be entered for a chance to win $4,000. So your donation can translate into a big prize for Angela Hospice!

This is the last week to donate to our CrowdRise page, so please click here, and also share this link with your friends and family: https://www.crowdrise.com/ahhc-artvan2015

And a reminder: all donations must be made through our CrowdRise page in order to count towards the Challenge.

Thank you to everyone that has supported Angela Hospice during this Challenge, whether by donating, becoming fundraisers, or sharing our CrowdRise page. We simply couldn’t fund programs like our grief counseling and support groups without your generous help.

If you can make a donation again today to help us during this final week, we would be so grateful! We’ll keep you all updated after the Challenge is officially over and tell you how we did.

For now, we’ll leave you with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw

If you have any questions please contact our campaign coordinators:
Dana Casadei: (734) 953-6053 or Dcasadei@angelahospice.us
Lisa Norton: (734) 953-6008 or Lnorton@angelahospice.us

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Cuba

Name: Mike Cuba

How long have you been a volunteer?
Five years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do?
Bakes, crochets lap-blankets, home deliveries, teaches Tai Chi classes twice a week, serves on the Ethics committee, and sometimes sings in the choir.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
My wife, Jane, has been volunteering here for 20 years. She knits. She’s amazing. She can work with patients, I couldn’t do that. I haven’t got the emotional strength for it. She does home care and she knits lap-blankets. I figured if she can knit them, I can crochet them. I’ve crocheted since I was in college. She does the nice, pretty pastel ones, and I do ones I think I would like more. Different colors, different patterns. Different textures too. I figured you need a little bit of texture, especially if it’s for an ex-military patient. That’s how I got into volunteering.

Mike teaches Tai Chi twice a week.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
For purely selfish motive it takes me about 30 hours to make one of those blankets and I do it while I’m watching TV. Crocheting is my excuse for watching TV.

I also enjoy meeting the people here, even though I don’t share a lot of their philosophy. I’m agnostic…and one of the interesting things that I do is serve on the Ethics Committee.  When Syndie [Angela Hospice’s Volunteer Services Manager] asked me to be on it I said, “Boy, have you got the wrong vampire.” She said, “No, we need all sorts of viewpoints." I like the mental challenge there.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
A couple of years ago, I think it was Valentine’s Day, there was normally going to be something going on but it got cancelled because it was Valentine’s Day. So Jane and I made up about four batches of cookie dough, brought them all in, and started making cookies in the Care Center kitchen.

We were just going to make them and set them out. A couple of patients came in with their families while we were making the cookies and we had a nice discussion with them. I guess one of them had been a baker and they were sharing stories with us. It was one of the few times I’ve directly interacted with the patients and their families. They had some of the cookies and they enjoyed them.

We made three or four different kinds of cookies and had a good time.

Art Van Charity Challenge: Bonus Challenge #4

Be sure to tell all your friends and family about the
Art Van Charity Challenge!
There are only two weeks left of the Art Van Charity Challenge.

During the last three weeks of the Challenge we’ve raised over $7,800 thanks to supportive donors becoming fundraisers, sharing our CrowdRise page, and donating money to our cause. Through your generosity more people will be able to receive Angela Hospice’s compassionate grief support services to help them through a difficult time. And that’s really what this is all about.

As we’ve posted before, each week has a unique bonus challenge. Read below for details about this week’s challenge.

The fourth bonus challenge will run until June 16 at 11:59 a.m. The charity that gets the highest number of donations from unique donors this week will receive $4,000. (So donations as small as $10 can make a big difference!) The next five runner-ups will each get a $1,000 Art Van Furniture gift card. So if you know anyone that hasn’t donated that you think might be interested, this would be a great time for them to contribute! You can copy and share this link with them or click to make a donation yourself:  https://www.crowdrise.com/ahhc-artvan2015

Friendly reminder: all donations must be done through our CrowdRise page in order to count towards the Challenge.

Thanks for your generous support!

If you have any questions please contact our campaign coordinators:
Dana Casadei: (734) 953-6053 or Dcasadei@angelahospice.us
Lisa Norton: (734) 953-6008 or Lnorton@angelahospice.us

The Raffle Ticket Queen

By: Kate McNamara, Angela Hospice Volunteer

Gwen Fedrigo has been a volunteer at Angela Hospice for 28 years and has worked on “Light Up A Life” for all 27 years of the event’s existence. Gwen has been a part of and witnessed the steady and amazing growth of Angela Hospice from its early days and recalls how it initially operated out of a small room at Madonna University. She first learned about hospice when a friend’s husband was receiving hospice care at Providence Hospital thirty years ago. Eventually, Gwen came to learn about and volunteer at Angela Hospice.

Gwen is married to Alex and they have five children, twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Alex Fedrigo was President of the Livonia Italian American Club and one year they donated the proceeds from a fundraising fashion show to Angela Hospice. This gave Gwen experience in the art of fundraising and she has honed and perfected her skills in this area to Angela Hospice’s benefit ever since.

Gwen (second from left) at last year's Golf Outing.
Gwen’s work fundraising for “Light Up A Life” includes selling raffle tickets every Saturday from June through the weekend after Labor Day at various locations, including supermarkets, restaurants and at St. Colette Church where Gwen states that “they stand in line to buy our tickets.” Gwen notes that wherever they set up their tables, they quietly let people come to them and invariably they do. Gwen not only sells tickets but she recruits and schedules volunteers each of those Saturdays to work in shifts from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gwen says, “It’s fun. People tell you their experiences, some cry, you give them a hug, you have to listen.” Gwen also sells raffle tickets every year at the event itself. She also secures items for the auction and finds sponsors to put their advertisements in the program.

Gwen is always looking for new volunteers to help her in this effort and she says she is very grateful for the wonderful, hard-working volunteers she already has, some who “have been with me for a long time.” She says that without fail, “if they do it, they like it.”

At age 86, Gwen exudes energy. She says “we just get so excited when we sell the raffle tickets.” Gwen understands very well how each and every ticket sold allows Angela Hospice to continue its ministry of care and compassion to its patients and their families.

When asked why she volunteers at Angela Hospice, Gwen responds simply. “You can’t do enough for the terminally ill and you feel good because you’re helping in a little way.”

As for why she and her husband faithfully contribute financially to Angela Hospice she says “Don’t you think everyone has a pet charity? Ours is Angela and when we are able to give, we give to them.”

Gwen wants anyone who is considering becoming a volunteer at Angela Hospice to know that if they “try it, they will be happy they did.” As she knows from long experience “you get more out of it than you give.”

Gwen’s enthusiasm is infectious as she shares her wish for more people to help her sell the “Light Up A Life” raffle tickets and to find auction items and sponsors. She knows the good that results for so many -- one ticket, one dollar at a time.

Art Van Charity Challenge: Bonus Challenge #3

Bon Jovi's excited, are you?
From Flickr
Like Bon Jovi sang, “Woah, we’re half way there.” Can you believe we’re already entering the third week of the Art Van Charity Challenge? We sure can’t.

In just two weeks we’ve already raised over $5,000, which is a little over a third of our $15,000 goal. Last week we mentioned that this challenge is unique in a few different ways, one of the biggest being that each week has a different weekly bonus challenge.

This week’s challenge runs until 11:59 a.m. on June 9. Every charity that gets at least five donations this week will be entered for a chance to play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner will get $3,000 to support their charity.

So please keep sharing our CrowdRise page with all your friends and family, donating online, and becoming fundraisers. Here’s the link: https://www.crowdrise.com/ahhc-artvan2015

Also, if we do get chosen to play Rock, Paper, Scissors, which do you think we should choose?

If you’re interested in becoming a fundraiser, click here. http://angelahospice.blogspot.com/2015/05/tips-for-art-van-charity-challenge.html

If you want more information about what the Art Van Charity Challenge is, click here. http://angelahospice.blogspot.com/2015/05/help-angela-hospice-win-75000.html

We’ve said it a lot since this Challenge began but we wanted to say thank you once more to everyone that has shown us support during this exciting campaign!

If you have any questions please contact our campaign coordinators:
Dana Casadei: (734) 953-6053 or Dcasadei@angelahospice.us
Lisa Norton: (734) 953-6008 or Lnorton@angelahospice.us