Hospicare’s Four Legged Companions

The story of Follensby and the Fig Newtons

One of our most trusted and loved volunteers crossed the Rainbow Bridge this spring. Follensby, a beautiful Golden Retriever was a frequent visitor to the Hospicare residence for the past 10 years. Follensby loved being a visitor to the Hospicare and it is with a heavy heart we say “goodbye”.

“Follensby was a sweet dog who brought a lot of smiles to patients, families and staff at Hospicare” said Wendy Yettru, Manager of Volunteer Services. “His is a sweet story that highlights not only the joy that our patients and families get from volunteers, but also the joy that the volunteers get from their work as volunteers.”

Deb, Follensby’s owner, reminisces that “When we visited the Hospicare residence, once I put a bandana on him, he knew he had a job to do and that he was going somewhere special. When we were within a mile or so of the residence, he started getting excited, and when we arrived, he would stop for nothing on the way to the door.  He also knew the residents were his priority, so he would head there first. But if anyone on the way wanted him to, he loved to lean against them while he was petted.”

Deb also remembers a time years ago when they met a little boy who was visiting his mom at the residence. The little boy was eating fig newtons and asked if he could share them with Follensby. Of course, Deb said yes and they sat there for a while munching fig newtons together. It was a beautiful moment where a dog was able provide comfort to a child who was likely going through a sad and confusing time.

Follensby also kept Deb company as she sewed memory pillows and bears for our patients as part of her “Folly Bears” volunteer project. We are so thankful for her generosity and are pleased that Deb believes that it “was one of the most rewarding volunteer tasks I’ve ever done.”

Follensby’s and Deb’s visits were always a bright spot, for our patients and families but also for the Hospicare staff.  He was a bundle of joy and you couldn’t help but smile and be joyful when he was around.  We are incredibly thankful to Deb for sharing him with Hospicare all these years. 

“All of us in the development area are so sad. He was such a beautiful boy and we enjoyed it so much when he came to visit us. I have thought about him often over the past year. He brought a smile to everyone’s face whenever he made his rounds. I was happy to have a treat for him for sharing his big heart and soft furry body with all of us here. He will be missed but is now in a better place and running wild, I’m sure.”

Terry taney, Hospciare community engagement coordinator

The Nature Conservancy Reports on Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare

Swimmin’ to a Clean Water Future in the Finger Lakes

By Liz Galst, Communications Manager, New York Marketing and Communications

Phosphorous and nitrogen pollution pose a threat to the region’s water quality. Here’s what we’re doing to help—and how you can take part.

The health of the lake has a big impact on the health of our organization and our ability to deliver services.

SARA WORDEN
Hospicare Acting Director of Development and Community Relations

Welcome to our New Board Members

Hospicare is pleased to announce that three new members have joined our board of directors.  Please join us in welcoming Aloja Aierewele, Jerry Dietz, and Laurie Mante!

“Of all the ways that community members give to Hospicare, the gift of time is perhaps the most selfless,” said Executive Director Joe Sammons. “We are so grateful that Aloja, Jerry and Laurie have decided to offer their time, skills, and expertise to our organization’s mission of providing compassionate care to Cortland and Tompkins counties. Together, we are Hospicare — and we are so fortunate to welcome three new board members who demonstrate such care and commitment to the spirit and mission of Hospicare.”

Left to right: Laurie Mante, Aloja Aierewele, Jerry Dietz

Laurie Mante is the executive director of Kendal at Ithaca. She came to the Ithaca area in 2019 after spending 28 years in various leadership positions in aging services in the Albany, New York area. Laurie’s professional experience includes numerous roles with nursing homes, assisted living, and adult day services, as well as four years as the executive director of the community hospice. Laurie has a passion for quality hospice and palliative care services that are rooted in personal and professional experiences. Laurie lives in Lansing with her husband Tom and daughter Mary Kate.

Aloja Aiereweleis is a human service professional with a medical background. Trained in pastoral ministry, Aloja has worked with nonprofit organizations for 15 years to help individuals and families live stable and productive lives. He is currently the Energy Warriors program coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Aloja is the recipient of the Jane Y. Hartz Outstanding Human Service Worker Award, which honors a frontline worker whose dedicated efforts make a real and measurable difference in the everyday health and wellbeing of the people served.

Jerry Dietz graduated from Ithaca College in 1975.  He has owned and operated CSP Management, a real estate management firm in Ithaca, since 1990.  Prior to that, Jerry was the owner-chef of two restaurants in Ithaca, Ragmann’s and The Other Side.

Jerry has enjoyed serving on the boards of numerous local, mission-based organizations. Most recently, he served for two years as board president at the Cancer Resource Center. He also served as a board member and past board chair for the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, and served on the advisory board for the Friends of Ithaca College. He is active with the local synagogue, Temple Beth-El, where he has been the long-time house chair and is a past president.

Jerry married his wife, Margaret, in 2017.  As part of the lead-up to their wedding ceremony, they held a day of service at Hospicare in which family and friends spent a day painting and cleaning up the grounds at the residence.  Because of that event, they became aware of a Hospicare “wish list” item to have a gazebo constructed on the grounds. In 2018, with the help and generosity of family and many friends in the community, they were delighted to make that wish a reality.  In October of 2018, they dedicated the newly constructed gazebo in memory of Margaret’s mother, Mary Overslaugh, who received care at the Hospicare residence in the final three months of her life.

To view the complete list of board members, visit our website: https://www.hospicare.org/why-hospicare/about-us/meet-the-staff/

Learning to Live Inside of Loss

By Chantelle Daniel

I love books. I not only escape into them, but I learn from them, about life, cultures, love, loss. I don’t always know why I’m reading a book until after I’m done with it and even then, it can be some time before I am able to gain a full understanding of the experience.  A dear friend gave me the book, It’s OK That You’re NOT OK by Megan Devine. I liked the title, it felt like permission to be in the space that I am in, a space that is difficult to articulate, because often I still don’t believe the loss is real and I’m not OK. I didn’t read it right away, I left the book on my bedside table, letting those words seep in, like a mantra or a daily inspirational quote. “It’s OK That You’re NOT OK.” Finally, one day, I picked up the book and started to read it, realizing rather quickly that I wanted to have a pencil on hand so I could underline the passages that struck me.  I found myself underlining passage after passage, so much so, that at times I felt as though I were underlining more of the text than I was leaving blank.

I came to a line Megan wrote, “Grief is part of love. Love for life, love for self, love for others. What you are living, painful as it is, is love. And love is really hard. Excruciating at times.” I stopped. I had never heard the idea that grief could be connected to love, and yet it made complete sense.  I had always been taught that love was happy and beautiful, and yet I know from life that love has many different shades to it.  Megan explains that when someone we love dies, we continue to have the same deep feelings of affection for them.  The yearning and sorrow we experience at their absence, our grief, is a normal and natural extension of our love. I had also never heard love being described as really hard, even excruciating and yet in the context of grief, it certainly is.  That is what Megan does so well in this book, she speaks to the things I feel, but have never known how to put into words, or that I felt wrong or confused for experiencing. I admit it, I don’t know how to do grief. Megan tells me in her book that that’s OK. This book is written in a way that allows you to read at your own pace, you can jump around and find the chapters that speak to you best, read it straight through, or just have it on your bedside table reminding you that it’s OK to be where you are now.

“This book is about how to live inside of your loss. How you carry what cannot be fixed. How you survive.” That is what is so special to me about this book, Megan isn’t telling you to get over grief, she knows that isn’t how grief works.  Instead, she is helping you live with the loss, knowing you will always carry it with you, and guiding you towards finding tools to survive it. I don’t know how to survive grief yet, but I know reading books and talking about books has helped me in most other areas of my life.  Regardless of whether you have read the book cover to cover, jumped around to read certain sections, or just have the book on your nightstand; I invite you to come help us talk about the book, It’s OK That You’re NOT OK by Megan Devine on April 14th from 5:30-7:00 p.m.  Underline a passage or two that speaks to you, or simply come to be in the same space as others who are navigating grief. I look forward to connecting with you.

Staffing Update

Hospicare & Palliative Care Services has accepted the resignation of Kim De Rosa, Executive Director, effective September 23, 2020. 

Although her tenure was brief and dominated by the enormous challenges of the COVID crisis, Kim accomplished much for which we are grateful and she will be missed.    

“While executive changes are inevitable in every job sector, what will never waiver is Hospicare’s commitment to its patients and families,” said Hospicare Board of Directors president Betsy East. “The Board is confident in our exceptional senior leadership team and their ability to navigate this transition, as well as the dedicated and compassionate staff who provide extraordinary care to all who need it.”

A national search to fill the Executive Director position will commence this fall.

Hospicare & Palliative Care Services provides palliative care, hospice care and grief support to all residents of Cortland and Tompkins counties. Care is provided to patients in private homes, in nursing facilities, in hospitals, and at Hospicare’s 6-bed residence on Ithaca’s South Hill.

Hospicare Welcomes New Board Members

Hospicare recently welcomed two new members to their Board of Directors, Alison R. Smith and Becky Hill. Hospicare’s staff is incredibly grateful to these committed community members who volunteer their time to advise our non-profit organization as we work continually to provide compassionate care to residents of Cortland and Tompkins counties.

Hospicare is delighted to welcome Alison R. Smith to its Board of Directors. Alison R. Smith’s term on the board began this summer.

Alison has worked at Cornell University for over 28 years, with a majority of that time devoted to alumni affairs and development at the Veterinary College.  Currently, she is the College’s Director of Development.

Prior to joining Cornell, she began her journey with higher education fundraising at Haverford College in Haverford, PA.  She is originally from Long Beach, CA, but remained on the East Coast after attending Davidson College in NC. She has been married for over 30 years to Elliott, and has two adult children, Duncan and Sarah. She has been a volunteer with the Cancer Resource Center and continues to be an active participant in Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare. She is an avid swimmer and loves to take walks with her Goldendoodle, Daisy.

“I have lived in Ithaca almost 30 years and feel so fortunate to have the wonderful services of Hospicare in my community,” Alison said. “I have participated in Women Swimmin’, and truly believe in Hospicare’s mission. In addition, while working in the non-profit sector my entire career, I have seen the effectiveness and importance of volunteers. The timing was right for me to give back to my community in this way.”

Hospicare also welcomes Becky Hill to its Board of Directors.

Becky Hill is an HR Director for eCornell at Cornell University, where she has been employed for the past 4 1/2 years.

Becky got her undergraduate degree at Syracuse University and will complete her Master’s in Human Resources Management in 2021 at Cornell. Becky is passionate about diversity and inclusion, process improvement, organizational effectiveness and climate, metrics and analytics; she has expertise in employee and labor relations and recruitment.

On a personal note, Becky loves living in the Finger Lakes and taking advantage of all the region has to offer: activities outdoors and on the water, and local wineries. 

“Hospicare has been a service that is held in high regard in my family. Having had grandparents who volunteered and worked for hospice, it was ingrained in me at a young age how essential it is to dignify and uphold the end of life experience. I am so grateful for all of those who contribute to this being as comfortable an experience as possible, both for those who are near the end of life and for their loved ones, who need so much support.” 

Welcome and thank you to Alison and Becky!