Dedicated Hospice Volunteers Invite Newtown Out For Breakfast

Published: June 05, 2019 at 09:30 am


MONROE — Three local volunteers with a combined 80 years of volunteer passion are inviting all of Newtown to learn more about hospice while supporting one of the newest and most advanced care facilities in New England, looking after individuals and loved ones as they navigate the end-of-life process.

Now in its 30th year, Giving Circle Co-Chairs Marg Studley and Marie Sturdevant, along with their committee, Marilyn Alexander, Ellyn Gehrett, Colleen Honan, Janet Hovious, Linda Trentacosta, and Laurie Wrabel, said they are all thrilled about hosting this breakfast once again benefiting Regional Hospice and Palliative Care.

The event is happening on Wednesday, June 12, at 7:30 am, at The Waterview, just a few hundred feet over the Newtown border in neighboring Monroe.

Neighbors and local businesses are encouraged to become a table sponsor ($200) and fill it with seven of their invited guests, whose “tips” will help support the cause

Tables are available for purchase through any Giving Circle member or by contacting Regional Hospice and Palliative Care directly at 203-702-9130.

The keynote speaker for this 30th anniversary Newtown Breakfast will be Magdalen Livesey. Her daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in 2015, at the age of 42.

According to Ms Livesey, for almost three years, her daughter was symptom-free, but she began to show effects of the cancer’s growth in early 2018. By Christmas of 2018, her disease had progressed to the point that hospice care was required.

“The best decision we ever made was to have her cared for at Regional Hospice and Palliative Care,” says Ms Livesey.

“During the last seven weeks of her life, the quality of care for her as the patient and for us, her family and circle of friends, went beyond anything we could have dreamed,” she said. “The wonderful staff at the Center for Comfort Care and Healing held us in loving hands, and we will be forever grateful.”

The keynote’s remarks echo the sentiments of Ms Studley and Ms Sturdevant, who have each been involved with the breakfast and Giving Circle for about 25 years.

“I think the thing that drives the success we’ve had with this breakfast for the past 29 years have been the committee members,” Ms Studevant told The Newtown Bee. “Some of them are no longer with us, but those who are have formed such a strong bond, I know that I could call on any of them for help or advice anytime, even if they are not serving on the committee any longer.”

Ms Sturdevant said all the efforts brought a new dimension in hospice care to reality when Newtown Circle of Caring supporters saw the new Center for Comfort Care & Healing open in Danbury in 2015.

“It was like a miracle,” she said of the new Danbury facility, “and to be able to witness all the love and support we’ve been able to provide since that facility opened and to meet and see the incredible dedication and caring of staff and volunteers is just inspiring.”

Ms Studley said she has never met any of those staff members, volunteers, or those who are welcomed to the Regional Hospice who has uttered a negative word about their own experience.

“Everyone involved on the caregiving side does their very best to ensure both patients and their families have a positive experience, it’s such a welcoming place,” she said. “I know someone whose family member was received care from Regional Hospice, and every time I see her, she comes up and gives me a big hug. It’s a nice feeling, and people who come to the breakfast will experience that. It’s just a really, really good cause.”

While Ms Studley joined the Circle of Caring a few years after it began, she said she has fond memories of one of the group’s founders, Ms Alexander, serving her own guests at early hospice breakfasts at the now-defunct Fireside Inn in Newtown. But since moving to the Waterview —at 215 Roosevelt Drive (Route 34), just a half-mile into Monroe past the Newtown-Monroe town line — they both said it is close enough to home to still be a Newtown event.

“This event started out very small, but as hospice has become more well-known, I’ve seen the attendance grow,” Ms Studley said, adding that “the hosts don’t serve the breakfast anymore,” but some of the table hosts still put on aprons and pour the coffee and juice.

Ms Alexander said when she heard about hospice in the late 1980s, the organization was soliciting for volunteers in each town they serviced to establish support chapters.

“And my friend, BJ Geerer, read a notice about it, and we went to an organizational meeting,” Ms Alexander recalled. “It was mostly for fundraising, not hands-on care, and the first breakfast at the Fireside had a very hometown feel. And it still has that feeling now at the Waterview.”

Ms Alexander said she recalls so many keynote speakers like Ms Livesey, whose family members have received such high-level care, and a number of hospice professionals who have related how much they bond with the patients and families.

“We all know about hospice, but we still try to keep the atmosphere as uplifting as we can,” Ms Alexader said.

This year’s event will include a special silent auction. Master Carver David O’Konsky donated a one-of-a-kind hand-carved and painted Northern Cardinal made of Tupelo wood in a special keepsake box.

The craftsmanship is sure to delight any recipient art enthusiasts, bird watcher, or anyone who appreciates nature collectibles.

Since 1983, RHPC has cared for Newtown residents and those in neighboring towns, providing compassionate end-of-life care and bereavement support. It is this commitment to caring for local community members that compels a group of Newtown volunteers to host a fundraising breakfast for the nonprofit organization each year.

Regional Hospice has served Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, and Litchfield counties with nonprofit home hospice care for more than 30 years.

Their state-of-the-art Center for Comfort Care & Healing provides a family-centered hospice residence and is Connecticut’s first and only private-suite facility.

Its mission is to provide exceptional end-of-life care, comfort, and compassion to infants, children, adults, and their families with a dedicated staff of professionals.

For more information, visit regionalhospicect.org or visit facebook.com/regionalhospicect


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