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.