Volunteer Spotlight: Marilyn Ling

Name:  Marilyn Ling

How long have you been a volunteer? Over 10 years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
I sing in the choir. We meet the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. We try to sing patriotic songs, and uplifting music for the patients and their friends and family that come to visit. I also spend time helping out with the mailings. In the past, I’ve helped out with the desserts at the volunteer dinner. I did that for a couple years.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
Both my parents were in hospice care, and I just wanted to give back. My mom was in hospice around 25 years ago. Back then the whole concept of hospice was a little new, but our family really embraced it. I wanted to get involved and volunteer, and that lead me to Angela Hospice.

Why Angela Hospice?
I chose Angela Hospice because I am a resident of Livonia.

Marilyn Ling and fellow volunteer Kathryn Trudeau
singing in the Care Center as part of the
Angela Hospice choir.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I really enjoy the choir. People really like the music and sometimes patients and their families join in and sing with us. We will often ask the patients if they have a favorite song, and we will add that to our music book. Especially the men and women who have done military service, we will try and play their armed service song, and interact with them that way.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I also used to sell raffle tickets, in the summer time, for the Light Up a Life Gala. One day it had started to rain so we had decided to pack up and I looked over and there was a lady standing there. I asked her if there was anything I could help her with before we pack up. She asked what we were doing and I told her that we were with Angela Hospice and we were conducting a fundraiser. She went on to say that her son had just passed away this morning from throat cancer and that she just didn’t know what to do. So I gave her the number to our bereavement program so she could talk to somebody. I thought, now this is how you can really give back to the community and help people out. I think the main thing that people don’t always realize is that at Angela there is no charge for bereavement services or to talk to a social worker. Angela has so many amazing programs to help families get through these difficult times.  

Volunteer Harvey Fox pays I.T. forward

Even when you’ve been volunteering your whole adult life, you never quite know what will come next. Just ask Harvey Fox, who’s been an Angela Hospice volunteer since 2014, and has volunteered at other organizations for years as well. He went through Angela Hospice’s volunteer training thinking he would help by visiting with patients, or maybe working in maintenance or hospitality – but he ended up assisting in Information Technology.

Perhaps it’s not too surprising, considering Harv spent 28 years as a software developer, then another 16 years teaching computer classes. But he hadn’t imagined all the ways his I.T. skills would benefit Angela Hospice.

“I only work four or so hours a week in the office, but I see that my time has really helped in many concrete ways,” said Harv.

Harv has helped in multiple departments, developing user-friendly tools to help staff work more efficiently. And as much as the employees he helps are eager to express their gratitude to him, Harvey says it’s rewarding for him as well.

“It has truly been a blessing for me to tap into my IT skills and knowledge once again,” Harv said. In fact, he’s found that volunteering in general has always been rewarding for him.

“I must admit that as a dedicated volunteer, I have gained more than I have given,” Harv said. And one of those gifts changed his life forever.

“The most valuable gift I received from volunteering is meeting my wife when we were serving at Providence Hospital,” he said. The two celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary in July.

Harvey Fox helps Angela Hospice with a variety of 

projects. He said, "I remember being overjoyed
someone actually offered me the opportunity 

to once 

apply my experience and knowledge
within the 
field of information technology 


good of the organization."
So what motivated Harv to choose Angela Hospice as the recipient of his time and talents?

“In a word…Mission! I believe that human life is the most precious thing on Earth,” Harv said. And this is something he sees reflected in the way Angela Hospice’s caring mission is enacted each day. He also appreciates the “family-like” atmosphere he sees in the organization.

“Working for Angela Hospice,” Harv said, “and being a member of such a loving ‘family,’ is not only a wonderful experience that brings me great joy, but a real energizer for my soul!”

In addition to Angela Hospice and Providence Hospital, Harv’s volunteer activities over the years have included projects for the Catholic Church, St. Vincent de Paul, and Schoolcraft College, among others.

“Volunteering has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had,” he said. “Volunteering is a way for me to give back to the community, in some small way, what others have done for me ‘in big ways’ during my lifetime. In fact, I plan on continuing to volunteer as long as I have good physical health and my mind can still function logically.”

And for all that time, Angela Hospice will be grateful for his service.

Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Ann Desjarlais

Name: Mary Ann Desjarlais

How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been a volunteer for 12 years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
I help with fundraisers, make deliveries to patients’ homes, work on mailings, and do home visits and respite care.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I became a volunteer when I retired. I wanted to do something worthwhile with my time.

Why Angela Hospice?
I became familiar with Angela Hospice when my dad was there. I was inspired after seeing the level of care he received.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I love meeting the people I come in contact with. The patients and families are so grateful.

Mary Ann sells raffle tickets at many of Angela  
Hospice's events.
What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I was doing respite care with a patient that had Alzheimer's. She never showed any recognition toward her husband. One day, her husband came home and sat next to her. She looked at him with recognition in her eyes. She put her head on his shoulders and the two of them just sat there and enjoyed the moment. It was such a beautiful thing to see.

Employee Spotlight: Joan Lee

Name, title: Joan Lee, Bereavement Social Worker

How long have you worked here?
23 years.

What made you decide to work here?
I wanted to work at a place that provided very dedicated care and I was in the process of switching jobs. I drove by Angela Hospice before they even had the driveway in and I said, “hospice.” I had also just lost my 46-year-old dear friend. I also had a lot of losses in my life so I had experience with death.

So as I passed Angela Hospice I thought, “Now that would be a place where there would be dedicated people working…it would be more like a vocation.”

Sister Giovanni and two other social workers interviewed me, and I was offered the position.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
I had never heard of it before but I was just driving by and the whole concept of hospice – and after the death of my friend hospice was already in my head – so when I saw the word “hospice” I thought, “I think I can do that.”

So I asked the mother of the dear friend who had died – who had known me since I was 16 – I asked her what she thought, whether I could do that type of work, and another best friend who would always tell me the truth, and they both said yes. Then I applied.

What’s a typical day like for you?
We pretty much see clients one after the other. We also have the support groups and we have to do phone work assessments. So we’re pretty busy. That’s pretty much what we do.

What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
My favorite part is the people. Not only my clients, who are very special and very dear – and this is a very gratifying job that we have here in bereavement. It’s very fulfilling because we’re able to guide and companion these people through this very terrible time in their lives to the point where they can live happily again. I think that’s very gratifying.

But beyond that, the people who work here are very similar in nature. Their goal is to provide dedicated care and everybody here is pretty doggone nice. That’s the best part about Angela Hospice.

Joan with fellow bereavement team members. 
What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
There are a lot of special moments where you meet people and help them. I don’t know if I have one special moment because there are so many moments with special people who have died – the first three years I worked here I did home care and then I moved into the Bereavement Department.

There was one very special patient who really died with a smile on her face and couldn’t wait to go to Jesus. I never saw that before and I’ve never seen it after. Every day she would say to her kids who surrounded her, “Maybe today I’ll go to Jesus.” When she did, she had a beautiful rosy face and a smile. It was beautiful. 


A new way to super-charge your Walk of Remembrance

Everydayhero is a new tool that Walk of Remembrance participants can use to make an even bigger impact on Angela Hospice and the community.

If you are walking in remembrance of a loved one, invite others to join you as virtual team members! Just visit our page on Everydayhero and click the green “Start Fundraising” button:

The Mimi's Little Sweethearts team at the 2016 Walk
of Remembrance.
In under five minutes, you’ll be able to customize your own team fundraiser page and easily share it with family, friends, and coworkers on social media. 

For more on the Walk Remembrance and how to start a team, visit our event page here.

Volunteer Spotlight: Deborah Diehr

Deborah Diehr at Balanced Life Massage Studio in Westland, Michigan.
“Whenever someone talks about hospice, I always mention that I am a volunteer for Angela,” said Deborah Diehr, a four year Angela Hospice volunteer.

When Debbie isn’t working full time for a durable medical equipment company, she is busy owning and managing her own massage business at Balanced Life Massage Studio in Westland, Michigan.

Her background in massage therapy has made her a treasured volunteer here at Angela Hospice. Debbie volunteers in the Care Center, but spends most of her time visiting patients’ homes to give massages.

For Debbie, knowing she is making a difference in someone's final journey, and being able to give them comfort and peace, is what she cherishes most about volunteering.

As for the most challenging part? “Not being able to get to every patient Lora sends to me.”

With working a full time job and running her own business, Debbie has many demands on her time. “I can only do what I can, but I feel bad that I can't do more,” said Debbie, a mother of four and grandmother of eight, who is always eager to help others.

Debbie was introduced to Angela Hospice during her mom’s passing, after learning about Angela through a friend.

“We contacted Angela and they sent a nurse out to do her initial assessment, and broke the news to us that she only had days to live,” Debbie said.

Although her mother passed away just a week later, Angela offered bereavement services to Debbie and that left a big impression.

“When I went to massage school, Teri, the Director of Volunteer Services for Angela Hospice, gave a presentation to our class, and I knew that I needed to pursue the volunteer program at Angela,” Debbie said.

Teri’s presentation wasn’t the only event that led to Debbie’s decision to sign up for the volunteer classes.

“When my dad was going through his last days, I was going to massage school at the same time, and I gave my dad a massage just before he passed away,” Debbie said.

This too inspired Debbie to volunteer; she wanted to be able to use her skills to help others like her dad. Massage therapy can benefit hospice patients not only physically, but psychologically as well. 

For Debbie, finding out that one of her patients actually knew her dad made it all come full circle.

“They worked together years ago,” she said. “It made me realize just how small our world really is.”

For more information about Angela Hospice’s volunteer program, visit www.angelahospice.org/volunteer.

Trek of a Lifetime

Jennifer Lake at age 23, just a few
years before her first seizure.
You could say Jennifer Lake was a Trekkie since birth. She grew up watching Star Trek and knew all the episodes, all the characters.

“She loved science fiction,” said her mother, Marilyn Spence, who took Jennifer to see her first sci-fi movie as a child. “Books, movies…that’s how she got started.”

So in August 2015, when Jennifer booked two tickets for a Star Trek cruise that would set sail from Miami in March 2017 – she had a lot of time to build up excitement. Only things didn’t really go as planned.

Jennifer had a brain tumor. In fact, she had been fighting tumors, undergoing surgery after surgery, radiation, and chemo, in a frustrating loop for 19 years. What started with a seizure when she was 26 years old, eventually evolved into a glioblastoma multiforme grade 4, the worst kind of brain tumor. But Jennifer was determined. She may have had a wound on her skull and enough medications to cover the dining room table, but she was definitely going on that cruise to fulfill her Star Trek dream.

She had made plans to go with her friend Donna. They had been neighbors back when Jennifer lived in Grand Rapids, before her husband decided he wanted a divorce. It was just 4 months into their marriage that Jennifer had first gotten sick, and 17 years later, her husband had had enough of her illness.

That’s when Jennifer moved to metro-Detroit. She was proud to have her own condo, where she could be independent. It was just her and her little dog, Cricket. But too soon after that, Jennifer’s disease escalated. She had to move in with her mother and stepfather so they could care for her. Despite it all though, Jennifer’s spirits were pretty high.

“She was really a brave, brave person, and usually in a fairly good mood – except when I tried to mother her,” Marilyn laughed.

There were some struggles as Jennifer tried to maintain her independence, despite her ever increasing physical challenges. She had to use a wheelchair and she needed a lot more assistance than she was used to.

That’s why it was so surprising when the morning she was set to embark on her cruise, Jennifer got herself up and dressed, and set the table for breakfast.

“I was blown off my feet when I walked in...and there was Jennifer sitting on the sofa at four o’clock in the morning, all dressed by herself,” Marilyn said.

But preparing for the cruise wasn’t all smooth sailing. It took a lot of coordination, and Jennifer’s Angela Hospice Home Care team was happy to help.

“They came and reviewed all her medications with us, made sure we had brand new medications, unopened to take with us to get through customs,” Marilyn said. “Yes, they spent an awful lot of time helping us get prepared, ordering a new wheelchair and all this.”

When all was said and done, they had a whole suitcase full of supplies.

Teresea Zarza, Jennifer’s nurse practitioner from Angela Hospice, also made a very important suggestion: that Marilyn and her husband Glenn go with Jennifer and her friend on the trip. At first it seemed impossible – the cruise had been sold out since 2015. And Jennifer really wanted to be independent. But Teresea insisted that Marilyn and Glenn go too. Jennifer’s hospice nurse even offered to watch their dog so they could go with Jennifer.

Marilyn called the cruise line and explained the situation, how sick her daughter was, and all the supplies she’d need.

“I thought, ‘Well, what are the chances of us getting a cabin?’” Marilyn said. “And they had a cancellation…a cancellation on a handicap room.”

Initially Marilyn and Glenn really hadn’t wanted to go, and they didn’t want Jennifer to go either.
They knew it would be very hard for her physically. They were worried about her. And they were worried Jennifer’s friend would be overwhelmed by how much care Jennifer needed – that she didn’t really understand how sick Jennifer had gotten.

But with the help of her Angela Hospice team, it was settled. This trip Jennifer had been waiting for for nearly two years was about to happen. And after a series of losses that had pummelled her over the past three years – losing her husband, her condo, her health, and her dog Cricket who passed just before Jennifer got really sick – this trip was something just for her.

From left: Jennifer, Glenn, William Shatner, Marilyn, and Donna.
“The day we were leaving we were all in the car and I was sitting next to [Jennifer] in the back seat and she was crying. I said, ‘Why are you crying?’ And she said, ‘I’m so happy we are going,’” Marilyn recalled.

The highlight of the cruise was when Jennifer met William Shatner.

“She was so excited. She went to shake his hand. She was the first one in line,” Marilyn said.

Unfortunately, Jennifer couldn’t go on any of the excursions at the stops, and her physical limitations prevented her from participating in a lot of activities. But she had fun on the ship, enjoying meals with her friend, scoping out all the extravagant costumes, and visiting the gift shop.

But by the time they got back home, Jennifer was not doing well at all.

“That first night we got home, I called at about two in the morning because Jennifer was in so much pain, and somebody was out within an hour and taking action, saying, ‘She needs a bed at the [Angela Hospice Care Center]....She has got to get a bed.”

Early that morning, there was a room ready for Jennifer at the Care Center. Then 27 hours later, Jennifer passed away peacefully, while Marilyn and Glenn were in the room with her. She was just 44 years old.

Marilyn and Glenn were grateful for the care Jennifer received, and thankful that Jennifer made the decision to sign on early.

“We were encouraged to use hospice sooner because I guess a lot of people wait… I’m glad we did, because on your own, not knowing, there is only so much you can do,” she said

Marilyn said that right after Jennifer died, her nurse and nurse practitioner came to the Care Center to say goodbye. She was impressed because she knew they worked in home care and weren’t usually in the center. But Jennifer had made an impression on her hospice team.

Perhaps it’s because Jennifer went through so many trials and tribulations – any single one of which could legitimately be called devastating – but she wouldn’t let them bring her down. She kept her spirits up and her hopes high.

“She had a very good attitude – she was really blessed,” Marilyn said. And she summed up her daughter in one word, repeated for the emphasis Jennifer warranted: “She was amazing, AMAZING.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Christine Henzi

Christine Henzi

How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been a volunteer since August of 2012.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
For the past 5 years I have been a home care volunteer. I have assisted patients and their families in many different ways including visiting with patients, sitting with patients while family goes out, helping with light housekeeping, even walking dogs. It really varies with each patient and their needs. Additionally, for the past year, I have been helping in the Spiritual Care Center as clerical support.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
Like so many of our volunteers, I had a family member who was a patient. I was so impressed with the care and compassion shown that I knew I wanted to be a part of Angela Hospice. I also have a background in medicine as a Physician Assistant and felt like my knowledge and experience would be valuable.
As a home care volunteer, Christine works with both adult and 

pediatric patients.

Why Angela Hospice?
Angela Hospice came highly recommended to our family from our physician. I like that Angela is Christian-based, not-for-profit, with such a wide variety of support for patients and families.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
The connections made with patients and being able to offer them help at such a difficult time. I have known some amazing patients.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
My favorite part of volunteering is by far the wonderful patients I have met.

Marlis's Story: Faith for the Journey

Marlis Brady has a beautiful accent. There’s something quite elegant in the way she pronounces her consonants; and the rhythm of her voice, as it subtly rises and falls, produces an enchanting, peaceful effect – even as she describes the trials she’s faced in her 88 years.

Marlis in one of her favorite spots, the back sun porch.
Marlis grew up in the Rhine Main Valley in Germany during World War II, where hardship was not uncommon.

“You couldn’t get anything new. We grew up always saving things, repairing things,” Marlis explained. “I remember one winter I froze my toes because we didn’t have regular shoes… I was standing in line for milk too long.”

Food was scarce for families like hers, who didn’t have a farm of their own. But she and her brother helped at other farms during the potato harvest. It meant a sandwich each day for lunch, and an extra sack of potatoes at the end of the year. It was a way to help their family, before Marlis started to work for the occupying American forces after the war.

John and Marlis Brady
on their wedding day,
September 27, 1952.
The couple married
 in Windsor before
moving to Detroit.
“When I turned 18, I could actually get a good job because I could work as an interpreter,” Marlis said. “Then I got a real dinner every day and so that was the way to go. It was what we all looked for, really.”

Then as soon as Marlis turned 21 – well, technically, it was the day after – she filed immigration papers for Canada. It took almost two years to get the papers, and in the meantime, she met her husband, John, there in Germany. (“In fact our first date was going to church, really funny,” Marlis recalled.)

At 22, Marlis emigrated across the Atlantic to Canada. John, born in the Bronx but raised in London and Dublin, later followed, and the two were married. But they knew Detroit was where the jobs were, so the Motor City was their destination.

Marlis and John with all five
of their children.
Now one thing you should know about Marlis is that she is a remarkable woman. Consider that she earned her Master’s degree while she had five little kids at home. Or that she and John spent years sailing the Eastern Seaboard after retiring from the Old Shillelagh bar downtown – just one of the businesses they ran. Marlis is also remarkable as a devoted supporter of Angela Hospice, and has faithfully sent a donation every month over the last few years. Having given a total of 54 donations in support of patients and their families, her commitment to supporting Angela Hospice began in 2009, when she lost her son, John, Jr. She and her husband had enlisted Angela Hospice to help care for him in their home, as he battled lung cancer.

“We were very pleased how my son was being taken care of,” said Marlis. “His sister who lived in Vermont, she came and worked from home and she was his caregiver. It was actually all the sisters who came and helped him.”

Marlis Brady said she’s feeling comfortable
these days thanks to her hospice team. Here she
is pictured with her daughter Dorinda, twin
great-granddaughters Kayla and Chloe, and
Dorinda’s poodle Darby.
John was just 54 years old when he died. Sadly, just five years later, another of Marlis’s children passed away – her daughter Barbara.

Now Marlis faces the final round in her own battle with cancer. But she’s at peace with her decision to forgo radiation and the “three or four miserable months” it might bring.

She’s happy with her choice to get home care from Angela Hospice in her daughter Dorinda’s home, and she’s grateful she started using hospice early on.

“It’s wonderful,” Marlis said. “They always take very good care of me and I’m always very comfortable.”

Her nurse Jane Vass regularly comes to check on her, make sure her symptoms are managed, and that she is not in pain.

“Jane convinced me that it’s OK to take pain medicine,” Marlis explained. “You know, I grew up in the ‘you grin and bear it’ type of mentality. But she says I don’t have to grin and bear it, you can be comfortable. And that’s what I’ve been doing. She convinced me of that.”

Jane Vass is Marlis's nurse. "It's an honor to take
care of people at this stage of their lives," Jane said.
"I have enjoyed my time with Marlis and listening to
her stories."
Marlis said she’s been feeling much better now on a low dose of morphine, and it’s allowed her to spend quality time with her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, even if it’s hard for them to tell sometimes that she’s sick. But Marlis knows her time is limited, and it’s something she’s come to terms with, thanks to her Catholic faith.

“I know where I am going,” Marlis said. “Jesus has my back and I ask Him every day to take my hand and lead me.”

As she approaches the end of her life, Marlis is grateful to be comfortable, and to know she’ll once again see the son, daughter, and husband she lost.

“My husband died last year August, so I have three people waiting for me,” Marlis said. “I have my faith, and because of that I know where I am going.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Larry Janowski

Name: Lawrence (Larry) Janowski

How long have you been a volunteer?
Five years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
I work in the patient care facility and assist in fundraising for Angela hospice. Every other Saturday during the summer, I barbecue for patients and their families. On Sunday mornings, I volunteer with the snack cart and visit with families and patients if they are up to it. During the year, I help with various fundraisers, such as: the Tree of Life, golf outings, Walk of Remembrance, and help as needed setting up other fundraisers.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I had a spiritual encounter. Angela Hospice helped my wife’s family with my mother-in-law’s passing. The nurses from home care helped our family as needed keeping the family together and making sure my mother-in-law did not suffer and could spend her remaining time sharing family memories.While driving home from work, I passed Angela Hospice and was wondering how I could give back to my community. 

Larry and his wife Carol at Angela Hospice's annual Light Up a Life Gala.

Why Angela Hospice?
I heard a small voice telling me to help others. Angela Hospice was a perfect fit.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Helping others and giving back to my community.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
While barbecuing one Saturday afternoon, a patient asked me to give him the best hot dog ever and to make it extremely well done. I did my best to honor his request and the patient sat nearby me. When he was finished he came back, thanked me, and told me the hot dog was the best he ever had. A few days later he passed away, but he really enjoyed the hot dog! My greatest reward is helping others and raising money for a great organization.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon K. McDougald

Sharon working the hospitality cart in our Care Center.
Name: Sharon K. McDougald

How long have you been a volunteer? 
I've been volunteering for over 16 years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer? 
I volunteer for the hospitality cart, flowers, mailings, and selling raffle tickets at the stores. I also help out with the Golf Outing, Light Up a Life event, Laughter Lifts You Up women's event, Easter Brunch, and Mother's Day Brunch.

Sharon with fellow volunteers Donna Beamish, Maureen
Hassien, and Georgia Scappaticci.

What made you decide to become a volunteer? 
After retirement, I felt I needed to find a way to fill my time and give back to society and my community. 

Why Angela Hospice? 
I picked Angela Hospice because it was close to my home and I believe in the hospice mission.

What is your favorite part about volunteering? 
I love everything about volunteering! I have found out that I get so much Joy from helping others and the community.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering? 
One of my favorite memories just happened at the Easter Brunch this year. It was so nice to talk with the residents and their families and see the joy in their faces as they ate and reminisced. The next day I was doing the hospitality cart and one of the residents that was at brunch had passed away and the family was in the Care Center. They told me they will always remember Easter Brunch because that was their last meal together with their loved one. Priceless!!

Employee Spotlight: Melanie Miller

Melanie Miller (right) working with Volunteer Dottie 
at the Light Up a Life Gala.
Name, title: Melanie Miller, Volunteer Liaison/Development Clerk

How long have you worked here?
Seven years.

What made you decide to work here?
I was at home, and my mom had just died, I had had my daughter, and I decided that I wanted to go back to school and get my four-year degree. So I went to Madonna University and started the hospice and palliative studies program. I took my first hospice class and I really liked it so I thought if I’m going to be in a hospice environment then I need to probably volunteer at a hospice.

I came over here and I started volunteering. I went to school for many years and I finally got my four-year degree. Then after I finished school there was a job opening so I applied for it and I got the job.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
I live in Livonia so I drive by here all the time.

What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me…it just depends. I help a lot with the events, with the volunteers, process donations, help with the receptionists, fill in at the phones, and I assist Helen  [the events coordinator]…I don’t have a typical day.

Melanie with volunteer Geri Orlowski at the "Rock
Your Red" Laughter Lifts You Up women's event.
What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
Working with the volunteers. We have such a great group of people. I work with volunteers for the phones, during events, and in our office.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
Some of my favorite memories here are just getting to know all the volunteers and getting to work with them. I have the pleasure of working with them. Those are my good memories.

My favorite memory when I was a student at Angela Hospice was when I was able to work with grieving children during a 7-week children’s grief workshop. I feel I was able to make a difference and help children during such a difficult time.

Strategic Planning 2017-2022

To our Community Friends, Team Members, volunteers, and supporters:

Thank you so much to everyone who graciously took the time to complete our Strategic Planning Survey a few months ago. We had over 300 responses and we are grateful for the input and thoughtful suggestions we received.

It’s great to know we have the support of our community behind us, and we hope we can continue to count on you who give of your time, talents, and treasure to further our cause on behalf of hospice patients and their families.

We wanted to make the survey results available publicly for you, so you’ll see a link to our results summary below.

We look forward to continuing our partnership together as we embrace what we’ve learned from this survey, and as we work to achieve the goals we’ve set as an organization: growing our mission, enlarging our referral base, expanding and improving our home care program, making technological advancements, exploring a palliative care program, working to transform societal views toward end-of-life, and ensuring our mission’s sustainability.

The impact of a non-profit organization is so dependent upon the relationships it has within its community – and we are sincerely appreciative of the kind support of our neighbors and friends. We ask that you continue to play a part in the future of the Angela Hospice mission for many years to come.

God bless,
Margot Parr                                                       Barb Hendrickson
President & CEO                                               Chair, Board of Directors

Employee Spotlight: Mike Conway

Name: Mike Conway, Home Care Social Worker, LMSW

How long have you worked here?
Six years.

What made you decide to work here?
After the loss of a loved one I went back to college to get my Masters in Social Work and I was able to complete one of my field placements at Angela Hospice. In only a few days into my placement I knew that Angela Hospice was where I wanted to pursue my career as a social worker.

Under the supervision of Rebecca, Whitney, and Mary Ann, I was able to observe how the staff at Angela Hospice was able to make a difference in patient’s and families’ lives during very difficult times. The staff’s care and kindness was not only extended to the patients and families, but also to each other and me.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
Prior to working at Angela Hospice, I worked for a marketing agency on Newburgh road across from Angela Hospice.

What’s a typical day like for you?
My day usually starts off at the Care Center reviewing the prior day’s events, completing documentation, reviewing on-call visits, and preparing for visits. Then I’m off to visit with patients and families in their homes or at facilities. Some of these visits are joint visits with nurses. While at the visits I provide support, guidance, reassurances, and encouragement to patients and families. Often I’m helping the patients and families find peace, comfort, and meaning as the loved one declines. This support continues for weeks after the loved one’s death.

Mike Conway with Director of Development Bob Alexander.
What’s your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
My favorite part of my job is being able to enable patients to pass peacefully and for families to have a lasting, meaningful, positive experience. Many times families have shared that being able to care for their loved one has brought them comfort and left them with cherished memories that would not have otherwise happened.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
Over the six years I have worked at Angela Hospice, I have had countless cherished memories that have left lasting impressions and helped me grow as a social worker and person. I have been privileged to care for and witness many unique situations.

Early in my career I was part of the team who cared for both a husband and wife who were on hospice at the same time, being cared for by their son in the parents’ home. The husband and wife passed one day apart.

But one of the most moving deaths I was present for was for a patient who died at home with his children and wife gathered around him. The son was playing a guitar as the family sung his favorite songs. The patient looked over at his family, smiled, and passed peacefully. There were many tears shed, but the family expressed how grateful they were that they were able to spend this quality time with their loved one and send him out of this world as he wanted.

Employee Spotlight: Penny Weeks

Name, title: Penny Weeks, Home Care Nurse

How long have you worked here?
Three years

What made you decide to work here? 
In my first year of nursing, I had a very young patient at the University of Michigan who had kidney failure and she was not a candidate for dialysis or transplant; she declined further life-prolonging treatments. A hospice consult was written, and the family wanted Angela! This patient was a patient of mine for weeks in the hospital and I became very close with them and their family.

The family kept in touch with me after she was discharged and transferred to the Care Center and when she died they called me. They had so many wonderful things to say about Angela Hospice and the staff, and the fact that Angela Hospice was Christ-centered care, and how comforting it was to have their nurse pray with them and be supportive of their faith. I knew then that someday I wanted to work for a company whose mission was Christ-like.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
Angela Hospice has an awesome reputation in the hospital setting and my entire career was spent in the hospital.

What’s a typical day like for you? 
No day is typical as a hospice nurse. You have to be able to multi-task, keep multiple balls in the air, juggle your schedule, patient and families’ schedules, and be able to be very flexible.

Penny with fellow employees at the Light Up a Life Benefit. From 
left: Russ and Kelly Hardy, Penny and husband Mike Belcher.
What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
I work with the best of the best. They are genuine, caring, and loving people. They are selfless, honest, and with the utmost integrity.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
Sitting with a family while their mother was taking her last breaths and being able to provide comfort and emotional support for them. Making a difference.

Making Mom Proud

Maria Frade and her sisters at their parents’ 50th anniversary. From
left to right: Molly, Marilyn, mother Marilyn, father David, Monica,
and Maria.
Supporting Angela Hospice is about three things for Maria Frade: giving back, paying it forward, and honoring her mother’s legacy.

“She was loving, warm, giving, and a woman of strong principle,” said Maria. “And, oh how she loved her family.”

Maria lost her mother, Marilyn Frade, in 2014. She had been sick for the better part of a year before her doctors finally understood what was happening. What at first looked like Parkinson’s was ultimately diagnosed as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). It’s a very rare, fatal brain disease that affects one in a million people.

Maria, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, had come to visit her mother, who was being cared for in a nursing facility. Maria could see the disease was progressing rapidly. Her mom experienced hallucinations, progressive dementia, and other neurological symptoms.

“I remember leaving that building in the end of September on my mom’s birthday and in my gut I knew: I knew I wasn’t going to ever be able to talk to her again,” Maria said.

Her gut feeling was right. The next time Maria came to Michigan to visit, her mother was in a coma,
but she had also been transferred to the Angela Hospice Care Center.

“I really was in awe of the people who worked there who cared for my mother. The dignity they showed her, the love, the genuine concern and care. I was just in awe,” Maria said, holding back tears. “I got there Monday and I never left. I stayed there, I spent the night there. And everybody was just so respectful of my family, of my mother most importantly.”

A limestone brick on the Angela 
Hospice grounds was dedicated 
for Marilyn Frade by her family.
Her appreciation for the compassionate care her mother received at Angela is one of the reasons that Maria now makes monthly donations of support. And she’s also grateful for the opportunity to help others. It’s something her mother inspired her to do.

“It wasn’t until after my mother died that I realized how much my mother gave to charity. She gave to so many people! Even neighbors and people she didn’t even know…we found all these thank you cards my mother kept,” Maria said.

Maria said she sees Angela Hospice as a selfless organization – one that you don’t fully begin to appreciate it until you experience it with your own family member.

“I do not know how to concisely articulate a heart full of gratitude, so I am doing what my Catholic Christian faith asks me to do: give back and share,” Maria said. “I do want to help others receive the same wonderful services and care that my mother and family received from Angela Hospice during the most traumatic and devastating time in our lives. In doing so, I also hope to honor my mother and continue to make her proud of me from Heaven.”

We’re sure she is proud, and we’re grateful too.

"Winner Takes All" Raffle

If you haven't heard, we've got an excellent raffle going on right now. The drawing will take place June 12, 2017, at our Annual Golf Outing, but you don't have to be present to win. Of course if you are present, that's all the more fun!

Here are the details of the prize packages that will all go to one very lucky winner:

$500 Cash

$500 in Gift Cards

  • Panera Bread - $50
  • Twelve Oaks Mall - $150
  • Red Robin - $30
  • J. Alexander’s - $75
  • Visa Gift Card - $25
  • Speedway Gas - $100
  • Applebee’s - $30
  • McDonald’s - $20
  • Tim Horton’s - $20

Two tickets to each of these Angela Hospice events:

  • Walk of Remembrance, September 16, 2017
  • Light Up A Life Gala , October 27, 2017, at Laurel Manor 
  • Laughter Lifts You Up women’s comedy event, February 2018

Golf Packages:

  • Western Golf and Country Club Round of golf for four. Mutually agreed upon date.
  • Black Bear Golf Club Near Gaylord, MI. Round of golf for four. Cart fee is $10 per player, valid after 1 p.m.
  • Treetops Resort Near Gaylord, MI. Round of golf for four. Valid weekdays only, cart fee is $25.
  • Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Round of golf for four. Valid Sun. after noon, or Mon.-Thu. any time.

Detroit Getaway

  • Double Tree Hilton Downtown One night stay at the Downtown Detroit-Fort Shelby location, including complimentary valet parking for one vehicle. Advance reservations required, subject to availability.
  • Four Detroit Tigers Tickets Sunday, Aug. 13, 1 p.m. game vs. Minnesota Twins, lower level seats, Section 139, Row 18.

Only 500 tickets will be sold for this raffle, and all proceeds will benefit Angela Hospice's charitable program. To get your tickets for $25 each, call the Angela Hospice Development Office at (734) 464-7810 or visit our Care Center lobby between 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays, or 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. Good luck!

Raffle License #R42145. 

Tiny, but fierce

Layla Simpson with her mom, Amanda, while 
Layla was a patient of Angela Hospice’s My 
donor-supported program helps children 
to receive expert care for terminal illnesses, 
while remaining in the comfort of home, with 
family and loved ones to support them.
by Dana Casadei

If Layla Simpson cries and it sounds different than usual, her mom, Amanda, wonders if Layla will be alive the next day.

“I know that sounds dramatic but it’s kind of where we are at,” Amanda said.

After you learn about Layla, who was born with a very rare birth defect called an encephalocele and is an Angela Hospice patient, it doesn’t sound so dramatic anymore.

The 20-week ultrasound is where the Simpsons’ emotional roller-coaster began. That ultrasound, also known as the anatomy scan, is where many parents often get the first glimpse of their child, and photos of their profile to take home. Amanda and her husband, Mike, were only given pictures of Layla’s feet.

“I remember telling my husband that I was kind of irritated that the ultrasound tech hadn’t been chattier,” Amanda said.

After the ultrasound they went to meet with their doctor, thinking it would be a regular follow-up. He told them he wanted Amanda to see a specialist and they were recommended to Google “encephalocele” to learn more about it. The doctor didn’t have any information packets on it. So once in the parking lot they immediately went to Google.

“If you do happen to look up her condition it’s all very terrible,” Amanda said. “It rocked our world.”

Soon after that ultrasound, Amanda called the specialist to make an appointment, but there weren’t any openings for three weeks. This would be one of the many moments where Amanda would fight for her baby.

While on the phone with the doctor’s office, Amanda told them she couldn’t wait three weeks to find out what was wrong with Layla. An appointment was made for the following day instead, and the many doctors’ appointments began.

“Every time I would have a doctor’s appointment I would be scared that they wouldn’t hear the heartbeat anymore,” Amanda said. “I never walked away from another doctor’s appointment feeling like, ‘Oh wow, that was really cool.’

“I don’t even know how we made it,” she continued.

Luckily, Amanda and Mike had each other, a strong support system, their faith, and a few really wonderful doctors, some better than others.

Dr. Nadia Tremonti
Amanda said the first doctor they saw basically told them not to expect anything good out of the pregnancy. They quickly switched to a different doctor at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where they would meet Angela Hospice Pediatric Medical Director, Dr. Nadia Tremonti, who recommended Angela Hospice for Layla.

“Hospice is a very scary word for people who don’t know everything about it,” said Amanda, whose only previous hospice experience had been with her grandparents. She didn’t know anyone that used hospice as a service for a child.

Once at Children’s Hospital they met with three doctors and two OBs to go over all of her scans. This was where a plan for palliative care was put into place. At first, one of the doctors recommended she not have a C-section, but Amanda felt strongly about doing it because of how large Layla’s encephalocele was.

“I thought, ‘If she makes it to birth, why wouldn’t I take that extra step?’” Amanda said.

Amanda and Mike then had to make another hard decision: what did they want to do to prolong Layla’s life? Did they want her on machines? If so, how long? Amanda and Mike told the doctors they wanted to do whatever they could to help Layla breathe so they could say goodbye to her. The same doctor who didn’t want to do the C-section told them that could be traumatic for Layla, but Amanda and Mike stayed strong. When Layla was born she didn’t need any breathing machines or respirators; she came out kicking and screaming.

“I stayed strong and I’m so glad I did that because here we are,” Amanda said holding Layla, who at the time of our interview had just turned 12 weeks old and was making tons of noise. She also had on a pink shirt with a Shakespeare quote from A Midsummer’s Night Dream that couldn’t have been more appropriate: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Two days after Layla was born she had surgery to remove the encephalocele, which took quite a bit of Layla’s brain. Amanda said they don’t know what functions that part of her brain held but they knew that her stem, which controls her breathing and heartbeat, was still intact. For now, they wait to see what happens. Layla can eat from a bottle but will she be able to feed herself someday? Will she be able to chew? Or walk? They don’t know.

“She’s obviously a miracle and a big blessing to us, but that’s probably the hardest part: there’s no idea what’s going to happen,” said Amanda, a self-described “planner.” “We’re not completely out of the woods.”

Now they have an Angela Hospice nurse and social worker that come to the house, and Layla is re-evaluated every 90 days by her doctor. Amanda said they probably won’t be able to take her off hospice until she’s at least a year old.

“I don’t quite understand everything about it,” Amanda said. “I don’t really get how she can be doing so well but we still talk about her passing.”

That unknown is also why they didn’t have a baby shower. And why Layla doesn’t really have a nursery. They hadn’t put money away for a crib because they didn’t think Layla would make it this long, and they didn’t want to have a nursery without a baby. She sleeps in a swing they have set up in the front room and all of her clothes are in two plastic dressers. But for now, Amanda and Mike will take every day they have with her, and cherish every second of it.

“You hear this (kind of) news and think, ‘Why me?’” Amanda said. “Now that she’s here I know why us. Because we can handle it, even though sometimes it feels like we’re not going to be able to. It’s really hard, but she’s here and she’s a miracle.”

Since the time of this interview, Layla’s condition stabilized and she was able to sign off of hospice care. She’s now pursuing treatment under the care of her physician. 

While it is not uncommon for patients to see some improvement in their condition once they begin hospice care, in 2016, about 5-percent of Angela Hospice patients actually improved or stabilized enough that they “graduated” from hospice care are were no longer hospice appropriate.