Stacey Hospice Heroes

Judge Michael L. Stacey Trust
Hospice Heroes

The Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network expresses its profound gratitude to Judge Michael L. Stacey (z’l) for naming the agency as a beneficiary of his Trust. In 2016, the Judge Michael L. Stacey Trust provided funding to several agencies throughout the community, with hospice caregiving among those causes he cared for deeply.

In honor of Judge Stacey’s commitment to end-of-life care, JHCN established a recognition program honoring compassionate caregivers who serve those facing the end of life in the Jewish community. Beginning in January 2017, JHCN selects a caregiver each month to be recognized for their dedication, commitment and advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. The Judge Michael L. Stacey Trust enables JHCN to continue its mission ensuring no Jew is ever alone at the end of life.

Joan Crenshaw, March 2020

“Why do I love the work I do for Jewish Hospice? I love it for the smiles I see on the faces of the patients I work with when I walk in. I love it for the hugs I get from Them. I love it for the smiles I see on their faces when I give them a hug back. I love it because it warms my heart.”


Dr. Andrew Cykiert, February 2020

“As an Internist, I provide care for people through their life journey of good health, hospitalizations, chronic illness, and ultimately end of life. I am blessed to do this work and fortunate to work closely with a compassionate hospice team. For the past 12 years as a hospice medical director, I have addressed patient’s and their family’s complex needs as a life ends and I have witnessed the tremendous benefit of clinical excellence provided by Hospice care and the JHCN.”


Jessica Hayes, January 2020

“Being a hospice provider I have been privileged to be a part of so many sacred moments filled with the raw and unfiltered emotions that surround end of life. I love being a hospice nurse because I love to teach patients, families, caregivers, and now as a manger other hospice staff that hospice care is not about dying. Hospice is about the beauty of life in the face of mortality and being able to help our patients and families focus on making those last irreplaceable moments the best and most memorable.”


Jim Waggenheim, December 2019
I love to make people laugh and smile. At this point in their lives if I can make their days happier then it enriches my day and my life JHCN Volunteer.”


Adriana Rus, November 2019

“The opportunity to come along side of families and patients to hear their stories, offer comfort and help in their time of need is sacred work. I have met so many wonderful people who give so much. The true heroes are the nurses, aides, caregivers, social workers and clergy who are at the bedsides of patients. People like those at Jewish Hospice who offer support and enrich the lives of those who are suffering are the ones that deserve the


Barb Nalian, October 2019

“Helping others has always been a passion of mine. I learned the meaning of compassion, empathy, and caring at a very early age and am always looking for more ways to enhance what I’ve learned. Though hospice I have gained so much more knowledge, patience, and understanding. Thank you JHCN for allowing me touch the lives of so many people. Actually, it’s really not me making a difference in the lives of our patients, it’s the patients that have made a difference in mine.”


Karma Maxwell, September 2019

“Early in my marriage my husband’s grandmother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She was placed on hospice and received the most amazing care. Her passing was a truly beautiful experience. I knew then that I wanted to dedicate my career to hospice. It is such an honor to work with patients and their loved ones in palliative and hospice care. I love this work because every patient I come into contact with gains a little space in my heart.”


Debra Langer, August 2019

“I love being a hospice social worker. During our time together I love being able to ask my patients questions that are not medically focused. I feel privileged to hear who they were growing up, or how they fell in love — the stories of their lives. I hope they realize the sum of their lives is not defined by their time in hospice.”


Joan Hanson, July 2019

“Working with people in a home setting gives me satisfaction knowing that I have helped someone to live a happier, more fulfilled life. I am very passionate about my work because I can give back to people and put them first. I enjoy working with people in need of assistance but mostly I appreciate providing companionship.”


Joey Roberts, June 2019

“I am truly blessed to be able to honor my late wife Linda, a beautiful soul, by visiting clients from JHCN This mitzvah enables me to give back to this amazing organization that did so much for us in our time of need. It is a blessing to be able to bring joy and happiness to those who need it. I am truly blessed and I thank God! ”


Lashonda King, May 2019

“I am a caregiver because it soothes my heart to care for others. To know that I can brighten up someone else’s day and put a smile on their face, makes me happy. I take pride in being compassionate, humble, and respectful of others. I have also gained patience, strength, and perseverance from watching people push forward. I thank God for the opportunity, to share my heart and love with those who need it the most. Thank you.”


Connie Rabon, R.N., April 2019

“It’s a privilege to be a hospice nurse during this most vulnerable time in someone’s life. I realize the awesome responsibility given to me each time I enter a home. As a nurse for 34 years I have cared for thousands of patients in various settings. I feel blessed to be called to this sacred work.”


David Gad Harf, March 2019

“Every week I look forward to my visit with my Jewish Hospice client. If he smiles or laughs, I feel that I’ve brightened his day… and this brightens mine. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to volunteer and create relationships with people who I will remember forever.”


Katrina White, February 2019

“Helping others has been a passion of mine since I was very young and helped my grandmother who was ill.  I am elated when I help others. While I greatly appreciate this award, the real reward comes from seeing the smile of someone I’ve helped, the warm embrace I share with someone in need, the words of encouragement needed to get through another day, the light that shines in me, given by God, to continue my calling. I believe this is what God created me to do!”


Tonya Melton, January 2019

“As a nurse practitioner, my care is given by a deep sense of empathy and altruism for others. Having children with complex medical needs has helped shape the practitioner I am today. I am driven by faith, close connections, and guding others to work together to improve patient care.”


Ann Smith, December 2018

“After 40 years in the banking and financial industries, I wasn’t complete. I began my journey in caregiving with my own Mother who I loved and supported in her last years. Loving & caring for her helped me to realize I had a special purpose in life. It has been a humbling and enriching experience being entrusted with the care of a beloved family member.”


Barbara Roden, November 2018

“My most treasured moments are meeting with families when they tell me how much Senior Helpers’ caregivers made a difference in their loved one’s life, or a family tells me we helped them make it through a difficult time. I often hear people tell me they recommend us because they know we care. It is in those moments I remember why I love doing what I do.”


Diane Ackerman, October 2018

“After being a patient advocate for my grandmother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimers, I felt I needed to be a voice and professional caregiver for the elderly.  We all need to be heard and I became the voice for my loved ones and my assisted living residents. I have worked with the elderly for 30 years, and bringing comfort to families who need our expertise is a privilege. To receive the hospice hero award is an honor I will always treasure.”


Staci Fealk, September 2018

“I am a hospice social worker because I am passionate about providing emotional support to patients, their loved ones and their caregivers. I believe that transparent education in the stages of decline is a key component to helping in the grieving process. I am also diligent in advocating to ensure the safety and comfort of all my patients.”


Karen Voytas, August 2018

“Caring for the elderly has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. Being able to give of ourselves is a gift and a blessing to those near the end of their journey. The aging process is not easy. There are  many losses: our friends, our health,  our career and our identity. It’s a time of uncertainty. My desire has always been to show love and compassion in its many forms, with a heart to serve.”


Trish Squellati, July 2018

“When I receive a call from JHCN I can’t help but think of when my family was going through the hospice journey with my parents … difficult, emotional and stressful.  It is because of our team at Michigan Community VNA that I’m able to do what I do for JHCN. I feel very blessed to be part of helping reduce the stress for patients and their family members. Thank you for letting MCVNA be part of your team !”


Adele Nodler, June 2018

“It is an honor and privilege to work with the hospice clients to whom I have been assigned as a volunteer. During our visits we often talk about our holiday traditions and share family stories around these events.  I find this to be a “win-win” situation as I learn a great deal and can share these stories with my family. Most of all, the delightful smiles that cross the faces of these beautiful people are worth a $1,000,000 to me.”


Diana McLeese, May, 2018

“I started my nursing career in labor and delivery, then realized my true calling: hospice! Being trusted and allowed to be a part of that journey is a sacred honor. Compassion, courage and being comfortable with uncertainty are traits every hospice nurse must have; you learn to live in the moment with your patient. Knowing I can give comfort, quality of life and dignity through some of life’s most difficult moments is why I love this work!”


Sue Roberts, April 2018

“I love meeting the patients, families and their support systems, discovering what they know about hospice care, what their needs are, and helping everyone find peace and closure at the end of life.”


March 2018 – Marv Talan

“I have volunteered my entire life, and when I was young, I was a boy scout and eagle scout. I love working with people, even when they are challenging. I often become friends with the people I visit as a volunteer.”


February 2018 – Danny Dubin

“Every hospice volunteer is deserving of this very special award. We love what we do because we make a difference – not just by providing friendship and dignity to our clients, but by also offering guidance and compassion to their families. My personal reward comes after every visit. As I’m walking to my car, I thank G-d for allowing me the opportunity to give comfort to someone in need, which gives me an inner gratification that far transcends any words or explanation. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. “


January 2018 – Christina Lackley-Bah

“Life is a journey. If you think about it, we are all on this journey together. Having the honor to walk beside someone in the later stages of their life is a special gift. This work we do demands all we have to give: double doses of love, kindness, understanding, compassion and patience, among many other things. It will stretch us in places we never knew needed stretching. But the gift that it gives back to us is greater than all of the exhaustion, exertion and commitment that we put into it.
Knowing we comforted, protected, cared for and assured someone who was afraid, anxious, sickly, and in many cases alone, creates such a feeling of satisfaction. This work is a special calling to everyone in the hospice care field, from the physicians who treat and diagnose to the caregivers who provide care, to the rabbi who visits and eases the minds of dying patients, to the music therapists who come in with a familiar song to sing to them. We are all so fortunate to be “in this together.”
Thank you all for this great honor and acknowledgment of my work as a caregiving companion. Becoming a “Hospice Hero” is an accolade I will never take for granted.”

December 2017 – Phyllis Schwartz

“A Hospice volunteer’s work is the gift that keeps giving back to the volunteer. I am thankful for this opportunity.”

November 2017 – Diane Koenig

“Working as a care giver is so much more than just a job, it is my passion. My clients are my family and I care for them as such. I am so thankful to be able to go to ‘work’ every day and love what I do. I couldn’t ask for a better career.”

October 2017 – Tina Schoenherr

“I get to do God’s work everyday. – I am humbled at being with patients and their families in one of their most intimate of times. Besides being a wife and mother I am proudest of being a hospice nurse.”

September 2017 – Holly Wood

“Hospice is an incredibly rewarding career choice. As a nurse, we are trained to do everything in our power to sustain and maintain life. Hospice work is the complete opposite. A hospice nurse is so much more than “just a nurse”. We walk our patient’s home at the end of their days. We are a shoulder for families to cry on, an ear to listen to venting, a heart to feel empathy for patient’s and families during the most difficult times. As hospice nurses, we walk into a patient’s life for the first time, knowing that we cannot fix them, with the advance knowledge that we will be saying goodbye to them sooner rather than later. We feel the loss of our patient’s along with the families we serve; but they do not get to see our hidden tears we cry for their loved one. We can only attempt to show them our dedication and compassion to their loved one through our actions and support we provide them. Hospice is an incredibly challenging career; but one of the most rewarding I could imagine. This is why I love what I do every day. It is a privilege to be a hospice nurse.”

August 2017 – Paul Nguyen

“I Love This Work. Visiting patients is the privilege and honor given to me because by these unique patients, their life histories and experiences were shared. They taught me everyday how to live, love and learn. In addition, nevertheless, I visit patients, deep down inside, I believe, they are images of the Infinite One, manifesting as these. In other words I do not serve patients but God’s manifestations living among man.”

July 2017 – Lauren Cousineau

“I love that God can use me through this sacred work as a conduit for comfort, peace, healing, and joy, as patients and their families deal with a myriad of life and end of life issues. I love that often they discover the wonderful meaning and purpose their lives have had and it is an honor to be a witness to that discovery. I love that this work continues to challenge and change me.”

June 2017 – Chuck Kelly

“When we or our loved ones need this care, everything seems scary and overwhelming. Helping patients and families take the next steps for a loved one medically, physically, emotionally and spiritually is why I love what I do.”

May 2017 – Donna Pomaville

“Nurse practitioners in community-based palliative care bring the best of nursing and the best of medicine to the homes of people struggling with advanced illness. Helping people move from physical distress and confusion to increased comfort and confidence is the most rewarding part of this work. I am so grateful serve with dedicated palliative and hospice coworkers and our partners at the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network in this vital endeavor. One day, I believe our partnership will become a national standard of excellence for people of all faiths and backgrounds to receive the best end of life care possible.”

April 2017 – Dauwan Yharbrough

“I love what I do. My passion for this work comes from within. It’s instilled in my mind but mainly my heart. It makes a big difference if I can change a frown to a smile by being someone’s companion. I just love walking into someone’s home changing the atmosphere to happiness.”

March 2017 – Kim McKenzie

“Symptoms are multiple, emotions are raw and despite all the challenges in hospice work, there is a peace that settles into our souls knowing you helped provide compassionate care for a fellow sojourner. That keeps us motivated to this daily work. Either that, or maybe just a touch of crazy. It is a thin line!”

February 2017 – Sharon Perry

“I am a woman of faith who at the age of 18 learned that health care was a calling in my life. I love what I do. I approach every case as if they were a close family member. It makes me stay humble and give 100% of myself. To God be the glory.”

January 2017 – Kathleen Olsen

“It is a privilege and honor to be a presence for individuals and families embracing, grappling, fearing, fighting, succumbing, accepting the suffering which accompanies failing bodies and/or a life ending on this earth. I can’t imagine doing anything more worthwhile with my education and background. This is the best possible way to care.”

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