Sunday, November 30, 2003

Samira K. Beckwith Named National Director for NHPCO

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope Hospice, based in Fort Myers, Fla., as been elected to the position of National Director of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), based in Alexandria, Virginia. NHPCO is the oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs in the United States.

“NHPCO is committed to improving care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for everyone facing end-of-life issues,” Beckwith said. “Hope Hospice in southwest Florida has shared that same commitment for more than 20 years, so I am excited about contributing on a national level.”

During her three-year term as an NHPCO National Director, Beckwith will focus on public policy, education, diversity, cultural issues and better access to care. “Our greatest challenge for the future is making the ‘right’ decisions in the midst of a rapidly changing healthcare environment,” she said.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Rabbi Harold Kushner's Special Message for National Hospice Month

Rabbi Harold S. Kushner speaks with a quiet, thoughtful authority on matters that affect the deepest parts of the human spirit. On November 18, the public will have a rare chance to hear his inspirational message in person.

Kushner, author of international, award-winning best sellers, and a highly sought-after motivational speaker, will share his thoughts at 7 p.m. at the Harborside Event Center. The evening is sponsored by Hope Hospice and Palliative Care.

"This free presentation by Rabbi Kushner is our gift to the community," said Hope Hospice President and CEO, Samira K. Beckwith. "The people of southwest Florida have been very good to us, with their gifts and their time, so this is our way of saying thank you."

Kushner, 68, said by telephone from Los Angeles where he is on a book tour that he looks forward to returning to Fort Myers. He has twice vacationed in the area. and spent his 35th anniversary on Sanibel.

"I will be talking about my book, "Living a Life that Matters, Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success," and tie that into my new book, "The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm," he said. Those books, plus his 1981 landmark spiritual classic, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," can be thought of, in part, as guidelines to living the best possible lives, so that at the end we can face death with the least amount of regret.

Kushner said one of the best things about hospice care is, "When you are in the valley of the shadow of death you are not alone. That's the wonderful thing about hospice, you are not alone - and if I can be so bold, I believe hospice workers are incarnations of God."

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened," Kushner said. Those at the end of their lives in hospice sometimes have a chance to make amends for damage they've done to family or friends. Kushner spoke to how a person can live so that at their death they can die without overwhelming fear, frustration, regret or guilt.

"Hospice encourages people to take care of unfinished business, to reconcile, to say goodbye, to thank those they need to thank. Secondly, when you look back on your life you realize even if haven't done everything perfectly, you've probably done some things well. With little effort you can probably remember that you have made suggestions or done small acts of kindness that have changed someone else's life."

Kushner also spoke about the importance of making the right moral choices. "Humans need to know their lives have had an impact on the world around us. It's tempting to compromise our moral standards in order to achieve some sense of importance," Kushner said.

"We have a craving for significance, the need to know that our lives and our choices mean something. We sometimes do great things, and sometimes terrible things to reassure ourselves that we matter to the world. We sometimes confuse fame, power, and wealth with true achievement. But finally we need to think of ourselves as good people, and we are troubled when we compromise our integrity in the pursuit of what we think of as success.

 "The Talmud says, 'to repent one day before your death.' That means to keep in shape every day. The rule would be to live in such a way that if something happened tomorrow you would die with a minimum of regret."

Beckwith said Kushner's presentation is the keynote event for National Hospice Month, which is each November. It was Beckwith's idea to bring Kushner to Fort Myers. She said she had originally met the rabbi when he was speaking in North Dakota years ago.

"What a wonderful message he gave in 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People.' It was one of the most read and well-utilized pieces of advice. The title says it all. People say, 'why me, poor me' because Americans only think death is optional. If you do the right thing, eat the right food, you can somehow bargain and nothing bad will ever happen to us or those we love. Then it's a shock when life happens."

In her professional life Beckwith recommends the book, and even keeps copies on hand to hand out.

"I utilize the advice and share the advice all the time for families and situations. That's one of the great joys in working in hospice, to help them focus on what you can do, not on what you can't do."

"I wanted to invite Rabbi Kushner to this community for the last few years. I saw him on Larry King Live a few months ago, but I actually started worked on getting on his calendar a year ago."

"This is right before the holidays, when it's difficult for people who have experienced loss. This is a perfect time for Rabbi Kushner to speak to us because he is so helpful and his message and presence is so helpful to people."

Harborside Event Center, in downtown Fort Myers, has a capacity of 3,000.

"We wanted one central, convenient location, and thought with that large capacity we didn't have to have the event for only a chosen few," Beckwith said.

Kushner will be available to sign The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, which will be for sale at the venue.

What: Speaking engagement
When: Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Harbourside Event Center
Sponsor: Hope Hospice

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Hope Chest Grand Opening

A brief grand opening ceremony will be at 10 a.m. for the new Hope Hospice resale store in North Fort Myers, with representatives of the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce attending.

In addition to designer clothing for women, the store offers furniture, home decor, kitchenware, artwork, books, antiques, jewelry and more. Proceeds benefit Hope Hospice patients and their families, and all donated items are tax deductible. Hope Chest, 13821 N. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Bill Wilhelm's Art Collection is Close to His Heart

Bill Wilhelm is painting his heart out in memory of others. Wilhelm, 85, a part-time Fort Myers resident, has a collection of work on display at Gulf Harbour Jewelers in Fort Myers.

The paintings in "The Callepitar Collection" are for sale and benefit Hope Hospice, a nonprofit organization near and dear to Wilhelm's heart.

"Hope Hospice played a very important part in my life when I lost my second wife," Wilhelm said. “And so I decided I would have this art exhibit to benefit them."

Wilhelm's second wife, Peggie, died of lung cancer on New Year's Day in 2002. The collection is dedicated to Peggie, his two granddaughters and his daughter, Nan Wilhelm.

The collection is affectionately named for the way one of his granddaughters, Emily Harrison, would pronounce the word "caterpillar." Emily died of leukemia in 1986 at the age of 5 years.

"This is all about the death of a child,'' Wilhelm said. "She fell in love with caterpillars and unfortunately we were not able to get her to say caterpillar; she would always say callepitar."

The fund-raiser features 15 acrylic and oil paintings of still lifes, landscapes, portraits and more. Wilhelm began painting about 50 years ago and was encouraged by his father, who was a sign painter. His works have been exhibited at the Boston Arts Festival, Coral Gables, Indiana public library system and other venues across the country.

"November is National Hospice Month, and we are honored that Bill has chosen this time to offer his beautiful work to the public on our behalf,'' said Samira Beckwith, Hope President and CEO. “The proceeds will better enable us to provide compassionate care to everyone in need or our services, regardless of their ability to pay."

Also offered are signed, bound copies of his 90-piece collection, which doubles as a coffee table book.

Saturday, November 1, 2003

National Hospice Month 2003

November is celebrated all over the country as National Hospice Month. The local Hope Hospice & Palliative Care is sponsoring/hosting several events as part of this celebration.

Internationally known writer to speak On Nov. 18
Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of international best-sellers and award-winning inspirational and motivational books, will make a free presentation to the public at 7 p.m. at the Harborside Event Center. Kushner's presentation will focus on his latest best-seller, The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm. The book will be available for purchase and the rabbi will sign books after the event.

"This presentation by Rabbi Kushner is our gift to the community," said Hope Hospice president and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. "The people of Southwest Florida have been very good to us with both their gifts and their time... This is our way of saying thank you."

Kushner's presentation is the keynote event for the month.

Sanctuary Tennis Tournament in Sanibel
As another of the month's signature events, the Sanctuary Golf Club will host the Hope Hospice Tennis Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 22 & 23. This is a bracketed men's and women's doubles tournament; the format will be single elimination with consolation rounds. Deadline for entry is Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. and the entry fee is $50 per person (payable to Hope Hospice).

For additional information, call Christie Bradley at 472-5276. Tournament play begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Entry fee includes continental breakfast and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday and a goodie bag for each player. Bracket winners and finalists, as well as consolation winners will receive awards designed by Luc Century.

Sponsorship Opportunities

  • Tournament Sponsors ($1,000) will be listed as such at the top of the sponsor's board and appear prominently on the back of the T-shirt and in all press releases.
  • Court Sponsors ($500) will be so designated on the sponsor's board, have their names in all press releases, and be listed on the T-shirt
  • Match Sponsors ($250) will be displayed as a Match Sponsor on the board, listed on the back of the shirt, and named in the program.
  • Set Sponsors ($100) will appear on the shirt and in the program. 
  • All sponsors will receive a Luc Century original, and sponsors and donors will be listed in Wings of Hope, the Hope Hospice newsletter. Contributions of any amount in support of this event are always appreciated. 

Artwork to benefit Hope Hospice
Also in recognition of National Hospice Month, Gulf Harbour Jewelers on McGregor in Fort Myers is exhibiting 15 acrylic and oil paintings by part-time Fort Myers resident Bill Wilhelm. There are still-lifes, landscapes and portraits among other subjects.

Entitled The Callepitar Collection, the sale of any of the works will benefit Hope Hospice, an organization the 85-year-old Wilhelm truly appreciates and supports. His wife died of lung cancer on New Year's Day, 2002, under the care of Hope Hospice and the collection is dedicated to her, to his two grandaughters and to his daughter. It is named for the way one of the granddaughters pronounced "caterpillar" ... before she died at age 5 and a half of leukemia. Also available are signed bound copies of Wilhelm's 90-piece collection.