Pink Topaz Raffle

One lucky winner will be oh-so-pretty-in-pink with this exquisite necklace and ring. The beautiful 14k gold and sterling silver combo set will be raffled off at Angela Hospice's Laughter Lifts You Up women's event on February 22 (but you need not be present to win).

Tickets are on sale now for the Pink Topaz Raffle, and can be purchased by calling the Angela Hospice Development Office at 734.464.7810, mailing in our order form, or stop by our Care Center lobby to get tickets from 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays or 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. Good luck to you!

Raffle Ticket Pricing: $10 each, 3 for $20, or 10 for $50

Raffle License #R45416

A Family Tradition

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., with his wife Tina, and daughter
 and son-in-law, Antoinette and Ryan Kramar.
If Orin Mazzoni, Jr.’s, mother had a motto, it was “pray harder.” And his father's perspective was "there are always people you can help."

Orin’s parents exemplified faith and generosity in the way they lived their lives and served their community, and they raised their son to do the same. Orin, a father and grandfather himself, has taken their example to heart, and has instilled these values in his own family, and his business as well. 

So when a friend brought Sister Giovanni to Orin's store to ask for a donation, "We were glad to help," Orin said. “I have admired people who are gifted with a hospice heart. It is so wonderful to know them.” 

Orin had heard of Angela Hospice through his customers at Orin Jewelers, the three-generation family business his father started in 1933. Some of his customers had used Angela Hospice’s services and had spoken very highly of the experience.

Over the next two and a half decades, the relationship between the Mazzoni’s and Angela Hospice continued to grow. The connection became more personal too.

"Our own experience with Angela Hospice was with Dad in 2001," Orin explained. "It was so much more comforting to have hospice help Dad and the family through that time."

It was a tough period for the Mazzoni's. Between the years 1999 and 2003, Orin and his wife, Tina, both experienced the loss of their parents.

"We lost many family members," Orin said. "That was a very hard time for our family."

The Mazzoni's understand the importance of having support through life's challenges. It is part of why they're so committed to helping the community. In addition to Angela Hospice, the Mazzoni's and Orin Jewelers have contributed to hospitals, non-profits, and schools throughout the community, including Ladywood High School, another Felician-sponsored ministry.

"The Felician connection has always been very special to us," Orin said.

Orin and Tina’s continued support for the Angela Hospice mission was formally recognized at the Light Up a Life Celebration, held October 27, 2017, at Laurel Manor.

“We are honored and humbled to be recognized by Angela Hospice at this event,” Orin said. “Especially on top of everything you have already done for our family.”

Shepherding Families Through Until the End

Teri holds the photo the guards took at the Angela 

Hospice Care Center. From left: Teri, Cody, Ryan, 
Rick, Kathy, and Shanna.
Rick Colter was a great dad. He was fun-loving and adored his wife Kathy, their 4 children – Ryan, Teri, Cody and Shanna and his seven – grandchildren. Rick worked as an industrial fireman at General Motors for years, was a hobbyist mechanic, and a lover of the outdoors.

The life-changer came when Rick was diagnosed with lung cancer at 54 years old. He and Kathy tried everything. There was a period of remission before the disease came back, and then the doctors told them to find a hospice.

The remarkable part of the story is not that God led Rick and Kathy to Angela Hospice, but that there they were able to find a way for Rick to see his eldest son Ryan before he died.

Ryan is an inmate in the Ionia State Prison, for a charge that he and his family maintain he is innocent of. Rick was unable to see Ryan for more than a year, and it seemed impossible to see him now when he was very ill and in hospice home care. Rick was too sick to make the trip there.

But with God, all things are possible. Angela Hospice Social Worker, Ann-Patrice Foley, and Registered Nurse, Marion Ross, sprung into action when they heard about the need for this family. They contacted the prison and made a request for Ryan to take the more than 100-mile trip to say goodbye to his father. It is not uncommon to have a prisoner make a death bed visit, but this was an unusual case because of the distance, and the fact Rick resided at home — not a place the prison could guarantee to be secure.

Ann-Patrice went to Margot Parr, CEO and President of Angela Hospice, and asked, “What can we do to help this family?”

Margot knew that she couldn’t let the Colters down. “We are an organization based on faith and faith will make this happen for the Colter family!” Margot said.

It just happens that we have a place, our Care Center, that met the prison’s standard of security. In less than 24 hours after the request, Ryan was on his way to his father’s bedside with two prison guards at his side.

At first the guards would only let Ryan into Rick’s room and not the rest of his anxious family waiting outside who had not been all together for more than 11 years. Teri, the eldest Colter girl said, “We prayed as a family for God’s grace to let us all go in the room and be together — that’s when God took over — the guards, we later found out, were Christians. Their rules were strict — but they decided to call their supervisor and he gave the go-ahead to let the entire immediate family enter the room. It was amazing, and we are blessed.”

Rick went back home after the visit and died peacefully two days later with most of his family beside him. Ryan went back to prison where he has been chosen to take part in Calvin College’s Calvin Prison Initiative that trains faithful leaders in a prison context. A partnership between Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, CPI is a unique program that provides a Christian liberal arts education to inmates at Handlon prison in Ionia, MI. Ryan hopes to become a minister.

The Meaning in the Trees

After 30 years in the community, Angela Hospice’s Tree of Life is a familiar site to many as they hurry to do their holiday shopping, or stroll through the food court at Laurel Park Place. Though at first glance it might look like just another festive mall display, the Tree of Life represents something much deeper, and more poignant: it’s an ever growing testament of the beautiful relationships we cherish – that not even death can diminish.

Then and Now: The Tree of Life in 1992 and today.
“It is nearly impossible to walk past this beautiful space without being deeply touched by the size and scale of love on display, each ornament representing the name of someone precious in the life of individuals and families in our community,” said Bob Alexander, director of development for Angela Hospice. “The ornamented evergreens themselves are a powerful reminder that our care for those we hold dear is ever-living and precious, maybe even more so as time goes on.”

The Tree of Life has proven to be a meaningful tradition year after year, both for the donors and visitors who remember their loved ones with an angel on the tree, and for the volunteers and staff who work at the display and experience the heartfelt stories so shared by visitors. To read one of those stories, or to add an angel to the tree, click here.

A Room for Brian

   Angela Hospice's donor-supported Care Center
  provided Brian with the care he needed -- and 
      brought his family peace of mind.
The Angela Hospice Care Center has always been a community-driven labor of love. From its construction in the early 1990s; to its expansion a decade and a half later; and right through to the present, where day-to-day operations are supported by the generosity of donors and friends – the Care Center is a rare and valuable community resource made possible by Angela Hospice’s caring supporters. It’s also a godsend for families like the Wilson’s.

When their son came to stay with them over Christmas last year, the brain tumor he had been determined to fight for nearly 11 years began to overcome him. At 30 years old, Brian was 6’2” and his disease had progressed to the point that he could no longer walk on his own. How would his parents take care of him in their home that was not wheelchair accessible? The Angela Hospice Care Center provided a solution. It meant Brian could get the care he needed and his parents would know that he was safe.

“That was the best place for him,” said Karen Wilson, Brian’s mother.

She and her husband, Tom, had always known their son was special. Brian was an impressive child, entering the talented and gifted program by grade three. In middle school he started playing the saxophone and excelled at it. In high school he tackled advanced placement courses. It wasn't surprising that he decided to double major when he went to U of M: saxophone performance and math. And maybe it didn't seem like a big deal when he started getting headaches. After all, he was working hard on a performance piece and taking a full load of classes.

But in April of 2006 the headaches got bad enough that Brian went to the ER. He would undergo a CT scan and MRI, then surgery the very next morning. The doctors found a mass on his brain.

When it was time for a second operation, "Brian chose to have that surgery during spring break," said Tom. "Then he went back to school on time."
Tom and Karen Wilson with their son Brian, and
daughter and son-in-law Jodi 
and Dave Guzak.

Smart and driven, Brian wasn’t about to let a brain tumor hold him back. He interned for NASA during his fourth year at the university, then after another surgery, went on to an internship at Boeing.

When two oncologists said they had exhausted their options for treatment, Brian went to the Duke University Brain Tumor Clinic and began a series of clinical trials. In 2011, he was actually able to stop all treatments. The tumor was gone.

“We were told it comes back,” Karen said. “We just wouldn’t know when.”

In the meantime, Brian had graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, having changed his major to aerospace engineering. His story of perseverance was even shared by the University president in her 2009 commencement address, as she highlighted Brian and other noted alumni who had faced adversity, including playwright Arthur Miller, and President Gerald Ford.

After graduation, Brian started his career with Boeing working on a series of exciting projects in Huntsville,  Seattle, and Patuxant River.

He then returned to Hunstsville, transferring within Boeing to work on NASA’s new Orion Space Launch System. But soon after, his tumor seemed to be returning; so Brian resumed treatment at Duke, flying to North Carolina where his parents would meet him.

By the summer of 2016, Brian’s condition had deteriorated significantly. In addition to the seizures he would have every few months, Brian was having difficulty walking, and was losing motor function in his right hand. He had even fallen at work.

“He was going through some physical therapy and the physical therapist said point blank, ‘You need to go on sick leave,’” Tom said. But Brian did not want to stop working.

Brian’s girlfriend, Therese, who also worked at Boeing, was doing all she could to take care of him. But she was going to be travelling during the holidays.

“He lived in a two-story house and our concern was him falling down those stairs when he was by himself,” Karen said.

“As it turns out…he and his girlfriend got called into personnel and they suggested he go on short-term disability, which he did,” Tom said. So Tom and Karen brought Brian home for Christmas.
Brian with his dog Riley

But while he was back in Michigan, his seizures increased – up to eight in one day. It was January 2017 when his doctors at Duke suggested they look into hospice.

“I just love Angela Hospice,” Karen said, “so that’s what I wanted. That was the best place for him. It was only 10 minutes from our home.”

Brian moved into the Angela Hospice Care Center, where he lived for 15 days. His girlfriend was able to come from Alabama to visit, and brought Brian’s dog, Riley, too.

“It was almost like he was staying alert until she came, and once she was gone, he had seen her and Riley his dog for the last time, Brian decided, ‘OK. It’s time to go,’” Tom explained.

“He had no pain at all,” Karen said.

Brian had fought hard for many years to live a normal life. He had been successful in school and his career, and had made many friends along the way.

The Wilson family keeps a binder of the kind words written about Brian, a collection of the memories and reflections shared by friends, family, and co-workers via Facebook. It’s a testament to Brian’s impact on the world, comments painting a beautiful picture of the man they called funny and wickedly smart.

“You helped me get through a lonely, rough time…and I will always appreciate it!” wrote one friend.

Brian loved spoiling his niece and nephews. From left
 Brooklyn, Andrew, and Matthew.
“You have done so much to resonate as a warm soul that brought smiles to everyone you’ve touched,” said another.

“Brian was an amazing brother to me and uncle to my children. We already miss him so much,” wrote Brian’s sister, Jodi.

Page after page of comments tell the story of who Brian was and what he meant to the people in his life. And as one tribute said: “Your family should be proud. You’ve made the world a better place.”