Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hope Student Volunteers: “You get as much as you give”

Hope HealthCare Services has been lovingly supported by volunteers for its entire three decades. Each day, they share their time with others, making a difference in the lives of people in life’s final chapter.

They come from all walks of life, including from local high schools and universities. Hope has made the volunteer program meaningful and enjoyable for students.

A volunteer since she was 15 years old, Breanna Yocum is a ten-year veteran of the program. She says she has “done everything.” Breanna especially enjoys spending time with children in the Hope Kids Care program, which helps children and their families cope with grief or a serious illness. “We play games, read books… it’s a time for them to not think about their illness. What we do is not about their illness, it’s about them.”

Breanna said Hope helped her family when her father was a hospice patient, and she wanted to give back. In her words, “You get as much as you give.” She added, “Volunteering at Hope teaches you how to deal with life, how to relate to other people and situations.” As a psychology student, that is important to her.

Volunteer Shane Lince agrees. “Hope is the best place for clinical experience if you’re going into medical school, because of the interaction with people.” An FGCU graduate, Shane is going to the National Institutes of Health to participate in radiological oncology research. “Entering medical school without working in palliative care would not have given me a balanced perspective,” he said. “I will be much better prepared to help people at the end of life.”

Shane said he was apprehensive on his first visit with a person on hospice care. “When I crossed the threshold into his room for the first time, I didn’t want to appear to be patronizing, but it was never that way. I thought he would want to talk about his condition; he wanted to talk about life, and he was interested in my life.” Shane says this experience will make him a better physician someday.

“Just as our student volunteers enrich the lives of others in the community, they have the opportunity to enrich their own lives through our unique learning and social experience,” according to Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith.

Beckwith pointed out that many young people become Hope volunteers to fulfill their school’s requirement for community service hours. “However, once they get involved, they see it as more than just something they have to do. As one college student told us, ‘I wish I had started doing this a long time ago.’”

Breanna and Shane agree that regardless of where your studies may lead, service as a Hope Student Volunteer is the right choice as a foundation for career and for adulthood. As Shane said, “There is a major need for people to understand” the special needs of others. Breanna knows that she will continue to get as much as she gives.

Nutritious Meals for the Elderly: Hope Connections Supported by the Howard E. Hill Foundation

The Howard E. Hill Foundation, Inc. of Belle Glade is helping Hope Connections in providing nutritious meals to hundreds of elderly residents of Hendry and Glades counties.

The Foundation has awarded a grant of $20,000 to Hope Connections, a program of Hope Healthcare Services.

Through the program, people age 60 and older in Glades and Hendry counties receive vital help in their daily lives. Services include hot meals, personal care, homemaker services, household chores, transportation, medical equipment, counseling and emergency response systems.

In the past year, Hope Connections provided more than 35,000 meals to residents. The Hill Foundation grant will help the agency to continue to provide that vital service.

“For many residents of Glades and Hendry counties, Hope Connections is their only source of a nutritious meal every day,” according to Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “We are deeply grateful to the Hill Foundation for giving us their generous and much-needed support.”

The Foundation is named in honor of Dr. Howard E. Hill of Belle Glade, who practiced veterinary medicine and became deeply involved in helping local families obtain affordable housing. In his memory, the Foundation recognizes that a strong community supports the residents within it.

According to Hill Foundation Vice President Jennifer E. Mailman, “Our goal is to help other entities to sustain our target areas of West Palm Beach, Hendry and Glades counties. We are pleased to support Hope Connections in meeting the needs of so many people, honoring the wishes of my grandfather.”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Samira K. Beckwith appointed to help Florida Chamber Foundation improve the future of Florida’s economy

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, has been selected to serve on the Six Pillars Caucus, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s expanded research and policy development effort focused on improving Florida’s economic plan for the future.

Beckwith was selected based on her visionary leadership of Hope HealthCare Services since 1991, when the organization served fewer than 100 patients a day to more than 2,000 patients today in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hendry, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties.

Hope is now one of Southwest Florida’s largest employers and has the broadest geographic service area of any hospice organization in Florida.

The product of years of collaboration and research by the Florida Chamber Foundation, the Six Pillars identify critical factors determining Florida’s future: talent supply and education; innovation and economic development; infrastructure and growth leadership; business climate and competitiveness; civic and governance systems; and quality of life and quality places.

As a member of the Quality of Life and Quality Places caucus, Beckwith will provide strategic recommendations, including corresponding public policy, to be shared with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other partners in the Six Pillars to help develop priorities for Florida’s economic agenda.

“Florida is moving toward its next economy, and the foundation’s new caucus system will prove to be an invaluable framework to help get us there,” said Jeff Lyash, chairman of the board of trustees of the foundation and executive vice president of corporate development for Progress Energy Florida.

“The Florida Chamber Foundation is a proven leader in tackling the challenges that Florida faces – and none of those challenges is more significant today than our economic strategy to ensure a prosperous future,” Beckwith said. “I’m truly honored to be appointed and look forward to sharing my experiences and knowledge.”

She has been recognized for professional and personal achievements on the local, state and national levels. Most recently, Beckwith was awarded the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, one the nation’s most prestigious awards, and in 2009 received the Alumni Medalist Award from The Ohio State University Alumni Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Beckwith’s previous honors include the APEX Award from the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Gulfshore Life Magazine’s Woman of the Year, Survivor of the Year for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and the Junior Achievement of Lee County’s Business Leadership Hall of Fame.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Best-selling author Gail Sheehy addresses caring for a loved one through illness

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, summed it up best: “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Beckwith, speaking about becoming caregivers for our loved ones, hosted a July 1 event featuring national best-selling author Gail Sheehy, who presented to nearly 100 Hope HealthCare Services supporters. Sheehy’s discussion was based on her book, “Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence.” The nonfiction work chronicles the challenging path Ms. Sheehy followed in caring for an ill spouse for 17 years.

“Fortunately, those of you who live in Southwest Florida have one of the premier health care systems available to you in your own community through Hope HealthCare Services,” Sheehy said, citing Hope’s broad spectrum of care designed to help persons of all ages who are diagnosed with a life-changing illness.

One program Sheehy recognized specifically was PACE, a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly that Hope offers in Lee County and soon in Charlotte. Available to adults over 55 who qualify for Medicare part A & B or Medicaid, PACE serves those who qualify for nursing home care but want to maintain independent living. The innovative program – offered in only 75 locations in the U.S. – provides help acquiring medical services and supplies, transportation, social and wellness programs and expressive therapies.

“We’re committed to enhancing the quality of life for those in need in our community through a variety of programs and services,” said Beckwith, who opened only the second PACE program in Florida. “Another component of caring for the individual is providing assistance to their caregivers, who can benefit from the assistance they receive through PACE as well as programs offering information and support and specialized services such as respite care and counseling.”

Guests at the event each received a copy of Sheehy’s book, which was personalized during a book signing opportunity following the presentation at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

“Gail’s experiences caring for her husband can help all of us be better prepared,” Beckwith said. “One of the important first steps is becoming aware of the services and programs available in our own communities.”