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.