By Lynette M. Loomis
Arlene Nanry, a hospice nurse who has devoted her life to helping those around her, decided to begin the long journey of opening a comfort care home in Gates in March of 2014.
With $200,000 left to raise, scores of volunteers are working to get this hospice-like home, Story of Hope Comfort Care, built in 2020. It will feature two beds.
“After a career as a hospice and oncology nurse, I understand the importance of helping people transition from this world to the next in a supportive, tranquil environment,” says Nanry.
Gates has one of the oldest populations in Rochester and the need was evident. With only 18 such hospice beds in Monroe County, there is a waiting list for people who want some control over their end-of-life care.
Comfort care facilities are totally volunteer-managed and staffed, and while they have regulations, they fall outside the even stricter requirements of a hospital-based or nursing home-based hospice.
As a nonprofit organization dependent upon volunteers and fundraising, the staff and volunteers conduct a variety of events to raise money. The events sponsored by Story of Hope range from a car show, a music festival to an annual gala, (the next one is March 21). The organization also raises funds by selling the piano CD “Transient” by Levi Gangi, staging numerous pasta dinners and organization the first “Family Mud-Run” in the Rochester area.
“I have participated in Story of Hope’s Mud Run the last two years with my two daughters, 13 and 10. We got together with other friends and their kids and made a morning of it; even getting team shirts made “The Muddy Monkeys,” said Diana Coleman a Family Mud-Run fan.
“It is nice to have a mud run that is available to kids. Most of the larger ones are only geared to adults….and we all know kids sure enjoy getting messy,” Coleman added.
With land donated by Faber Builders, Inc., Story of Hope in Gates will offer non-curative care to people whose life expectancy is less than three months. All services will be provided for free and include lodging, meals, pain medications as prescribed by a physician, and dedicated volunteer staff who listen to life stories, provide companionship and comfort.
Volunteers will include doctors, nurses, social workers and community people who receive extensive training in providing emotional and spiritual support to the patient and his/her family.
“Some people have no local family who can provide 24-hour care to a person at the end of their life,” said Diane Celento, one of board members. “For people who have local family, burn out is a real concern as they try to maintain their jobs and care for their families as well as provide round-the-clock care to a loved one. Volunteers are great listeners, but it’s important that close friends and family members be able to reminisce together, rather than check the med schedule or turn the patient over every two hours to avoid bed sores.”
Story of Hope volunteers realize talking about end of life and hospice care is not at the top of anyone’s list or something they are comfortable to discuss. But dying is also just as much a part of everyone’s life as birth. Story of Hope wants to be there to help the patient and their family and friends make this transition with grace.
“I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to talk about the absolutely true fact that my life on earth will one day come to an end. I think the reality of that hit me hardest when I started writing my age down and it began with a 7. To know that a place like this can and should exist is a godsend,” says Carol DuPre, a member of the Gates community and a fundraiser volunteer for Story of Hope.
Founder Arlene Nanry explains that as does everything else in life, they have had their ups and downs in working toward bringing this building, this dream, to this area to pass. “We are confident that when it is, finally, a part of the Gates-Chili community, others will confidently say, ‘This place is a godsend, and we are so glad it exists.”
To make a contribution to Story of Hope or to volunteer in its creation, go to the home page at www.storyofhoperochester.com. The donate button is under the house.
Photo: A past dinner event is one of the ways official behind Story of Hope Comfort Care use to raise money to build a comfort care in Gates. Shown are Rachel Rohr, Happy (Dick) Stutzman and Arlene Nanry, a hospice nurse who founded Story of Hope.