Hospice celebrates birthday with community party

Hospice of Homer has been serving the greater Homer area for 31 years, and this Saturday, its staff and board of directors are throwing a party to celebrate.

You’re invited.

Last year’s event drew about 70 people, said Hospice Director Darlene Hilderbrand. If the weather cooperates, the outdoor cookout at the hospice office on Pioneer Avenue could be as big, she added.

“It’s almost the end of summer, a perfect opportunity to have a lot of fun and support hospice,” Hilderbrand said.

Festivities on the lawn begin at 3 p.m. and run until 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27. Hospice is located at 265 East Pioneer, Suite 3, in the back, just across the parking lot from Captain’s Coffee.

Hilderbrand suggested folks bring their appetites, as there will be plenty of good food. The “fun-raising” celebration, as she called it, is also a fundraiser — an opportunity to donate to Hospice, renew your membership, or become new members of Hospice Caring Circles. Several raffles also are planned, she said.

“Members of the staff and board will be glad to answer any questions, and brochures will be available to take and read,” Hilderbrand said. “Basically, we want people who may not be familiar with what hospice has to offer to see the real value of this organization, which provides end-of-life care and other services entirely free of charge. We want to encourage them to consider supporting us financially and perhaps becoming a volunteer.”

Training sessions for new volunteers occur annually, and are scheduled this year in October.

Hospice of Homer began in 1985. Launched by Jean Hatfield, the non-profit community outreach volunteer program has expanded steadily ever since, necessitating a move into new offices a couple of years ago.

Just in the past year, hospice volunteers have made frequent visits to 57 frail and isolated clients, as well as visits to 31 other clients nearing the end of life; fulfilled more than 1,000 requests for medical equipment, everything from walking canes to hospital beds, loaned for free from the organizations extensive inventory; and trained 13 new client-care volunteers, who have become part of the organization’s complement of 40, some of whom have been active with hospice for years, Hilderbrand said.

Hospice will name its annual Compassion in Action Award winner at the cookout. Board of Directors’ President Rich Kleinleder will make a short address, and community members who have benefitted from hospice are expected to make comments. Assorted booths will provide further information about services.

While everyone is anticipating good weather, if it rains, the event has a Plan B. It will utilize the pavilion behind First Baptist Church on East End Road, near hospice’s former office.

Hal Spence is on the board of directors for Hospice of Homer.