Twelve years, 11 months, 10 days.
This is what is indicated after my hire date (06/10/2008) when I log into our new payroll system.
I spent almost 13 years as the Director of Development for Hospice of the Panhandle (that said too). This is the longest period that I have held a single position, a position that has fascinated me since my beginnings. To be honest, I was also pretty scared at the time of what I was called upon to do, in 2008.
Longtime CEO Margaret Cogswell in an incredible leap of faith hired me to lead the agency’s fundraising campaign to raise money ($ 3 million to be exact) to build the Kearneysville campus on which now resides Hospice of the Panhandle. Look back at that date, and if you remember what happened in 2008, you’ll understand why I was quite nervous when I started. It wasn’t the best time to fundraise, plus I had never done it before (I was the editor of the (Martinsburg) Journal before I came to Hospice). The economy had collapsed, people were nervous about parting with their money, scared of the future, wondering if they had enough to stay comfortable in retirement. But we continued with the help of wonderful volunteer campaign team members in Morgan, Hampshire, Berkeley and Jefferson counties.
To say we started slowly is an understatement. Because we recognized that people were nervous about even talking about money (and more so about parting with theirs), we decided to show the community what we intended to do. Specifically, we wanted to build a 14-bed inpatient facility that would resonate with comfort and peace while providing first-class care to critically ill patients whose pain and symptoms were not being controlled. And we wanted to consolidate our then five offices into one larger office building (we had overtaken the previous offices years earlier).
And the way we showed people our intentions was through a series of “house parties,” where we took easels, architectural renderings, photos, a 17-acre campus map and index cards. of information. Volunteers opened their homes, welcomed family members, friends and neighbors, who gathered to listen to Hospice staff talk about “Building the Dream”. Barely two years or so, after what felt like hundreds of parties (did I say it was hard work?), We started asking community members for their support. And the community responded in a big way. There were downright big initial giveaways ($ 500,000 from former Sheriff Randy Smith, $ 100,000 from F&M Insurance, followed by $ 100,000 several years later, $ 100,000 from Hollywood Casino, $ 75,000 from the Center for Orthopedic Excellence). Then there were the community members, who mostly made five-year pledges of $ 5,000, $ 15,000, $ 30,000 and $ 50,000. And our staff, who used payroll deductions to pledge $ 160,000. And our volunteers, who pledged close to $ 100,000. We ended up exceeding our goal of $ 1 million!
Fast forward almost 13 years to the present day. The community continues to support us, both financially, and by being ambassadors and advocates for Hospice of the Panhandle. And we were able to witness some truly remarkable moments at the hospital, where we have served nearly 2,400 patients in seven and a half years:
• A mother attending her daughter’s spring wedding, with flowers and a wedding cake, on one of our outdoor porches;
• another mother who sees her young son baptized;
• a couple, married for 70 years, who spend their last hours side by side in beds close together to hold hands;
• a 100-year-old man celebrating his milestone birthday, with a cake, party hat and balloons;
• a moment of calm and prayer with a beloved 34 year old palliative care volunteer who spent her last days with us in the hospital;
• a dedication ceremony and memorial service for a 28-year-old hospice nurse who was taken away too soon;
And stories from our home care staff – of patients who got to go fishing, see Stevie Nicks in concert, enjoy a picnic “on the beach” at Cacapon State Park, watch a grandson playing baseball at Charlotte Prather Park High School, listening to their son play in the group on Musselman’s Waldeck Field.
It has been a remarkable journey for me personally over the past 13 years. But it’s also an amazing diary for Hospice of the Panhandle. Our CEO often says that we always want to do “the next thing” to help patients and families. What would be the next step after the construction of the hospitalization facility? This spring, thanks to a generous estate donation from Earl and Marie Snyder, we were able to launch a new palliative care program to help those living with chronic and serious illnesses. Originally in Jefferson and Berkeley counties, Panhandle Palliative Services currently serves 32 patients.
Who knows what lies ahead for the next 13 years? No doubt it will be an adventure, a journey, in which Hospice of the Panhandle will seek new ways, big and small, to serve the community that has supported us for 41 years.
To find out how Hospice can help your family, call (304) 264-0406 or visit the website at www.hospiceotp.org
Maria Lorensen has been Director of Development at Hospice of the Panhandle for 13 years. She can be contacted at [email protected]