Longtime volunteer witnesses the value of End-of-Life Services

Six years ago, longtime hospice volunteer Christine Cornell and a group of other ThedaCare volunteers saw a need to help raise funds to enhance the end-of-life journey for the people they served.

“Every once in a while, we would hear someone say, ‘I wish we could do this for a patient,’ such as fly a daughter or son in from another state,” Cornell said. “We could sometimes dig up some funds and then we put our heads together to develop something better.”

The result was the Hopes and Dreams program, where funds are used for special requests such as a plane ticket for a family member, celebration of a milestone like a birthday, or anniversary or other special requests, such as concerts or gifts with recorded messages from the patient.

Cornell and the other volunteers started the 100 Women for Hospice event through the stewardship and support of the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the event—now in its sixth year—is able to fund the Hopes and Dreams program as well as support comfort care programs, including massage therapy, pet therapy, and more.

 

“Having a loved one enter end-of-life care can be an emotional and stressful time for any family, and the Hopes and Dreams program offers a way to both alleviate some of that stress and create an exceptional experience for families and their loved ones,” said Cornell.

The volunteers hear touching requests often. One year, a patient at Cherry Meadows requested a trip to her favorite concert festival, Lifest in Oshkosh. Through Hopes and Dreams, Cornell and other volunteers were able to secure tickets for the patient and her family and the necessary medical transport. Cornell, who was a nurse for the Appleton School District for 36 years, accompanied the patient for support.

“We had a blast,” Cornell recalled. “It was so much fun, and so meaningful for her and her family.”

Another request came when a daughter wanted to move up her wedding date for her mother who was in hospice. The request came on a Friday afternoon with plans for the wedding the following day. Cornell helped find flowers and a cake, and the wedding took place as planned.

 

“We learned later that the mom had died about two hours later,” Cornell said. “To be able to help make that wedding happen was a wonderful gift.”