November 2017


Dear Friends & Neighbors,

The bedside of the dying is a sacred space.  The reverence that must be given to this space was emphasized during my first week as a new employee of Hospice.  I was happy to learn that each person’s care is discussed amongst a team of dedicated and caring professionals.  While a person’s physical health needs are always addressed, the team also discusses the person’s emotional, spiritual, and relationship needs.  If a caregiver is struggling, if a patient is withdrawing from activities, or if someone has an idea of something the patient might particularly enjoy - all of this is shared, and a personalized plan of care is developed. I felt honored to become a part of this care.


I recently reminisced with Robin Willey, the daughter of a Sharon Brauer, a Hospice patient who passed at her home.  There was a long road before her mother determined that she wanted to be admitted to Hospice of Orleans.   And try as we might to discuss the ways that Hospice had benefitted her mother, the care was so individualized that we simply recalled meaningful moments that occurred. You see, when a person is admitted to Hospice, our highly competent staff enter in to the family’s lives at a very vulnerable time and assess and care for all of the pieces that need to be addressed, far beyond exclusively addressing physical needs. Robin and I talked about how her mother perked up at the mention of a music therapy visit and how each member of the team offered something totally different, but absolutely essential to her mother’s experience. Each team member is remembered by the family as an “angel.” What I recall from our visits at Sharon’s home, was a woman that was incredibly ill but so full of life, and even more so full of love. Sharon loved to reminisce and laugh and smile. She shared one of our Music Therapy visits with some very close friends.  She fondly recalled special memories with them, offering the kindest words that you could imagine, knowing that her end would be sooner rather than later. Sharon spoke about being at a local hospital for one of her last appointments and seeing a person absolutely heartbroken and crying outside. Sharon, in all of her grace, found the next step effortlessly. She walked up to the stranger and gave a hug and said, “You are loved. I love you.” For a woman that was seemingly fearless and so well supported, what could Hospice offer?  In Sharon’s case, Hospice allowed and encouraged, the opportunity for her to openly say those words to every single person that she desired to say them to, before she passed. Her family, despite the heartbreak of missing her every moment, rests assured that Sharon died the way that she determined was best for her - at home, surrounded by her loved ones, with music playing and many loving words spoken. For Sharon, Hospice was empowering. Hospice helped her to make the most of every minute.  To Sharon, choosing Hospice was being empowered to make tough choices so that her family didn’t have to.


For those families who need or desire more support during their final days, our Martin-Linsin Residence provides a loving and home-like environment.   One such person was Shizuka Massaro.  She was the Japanese widow of Joseph Massaro, a WWII veteran. Shizuka had lived independently in her home on Meadowbrook Drive in Albion with help from close friends and neighbors including a friend of her late husband’s that had also served in WWII. After her friend’s passing, it was no longer possible for Shizuka to live on her own. Her niece Yuko, who visited periodically from Japan and was Shizuka’s closest family member, helped her find an assisted living environment. After about 6 years, Shizuka’s health declined further, dementia progressed, and an event landed her in the Emergency Room with seemingly limited options and a very limited prognosis - 2 weeks at best.  This is when staff at the Office for the Aging suggested the Martin-Linsin Residence right in the community that Shizuka had loved so much. Along with neighbors, Yuko had found a dependable and kind caregiver in her friend Julie Miller.   Julie was Yuko’s eyes and ears while she was out of the country.  Julie recalled that Social Worker Chris Fancher wasted no time when it came to getting Shizuka settled in at the Residence, and she was made to feel welcome on her first night by enjoying a Japanese meal lovingly prepared for her. The 2-week prognosis that the hospital delivered had turned into about 4 ½ months as Shizuka rebounded. In her time at the Residence, she became known for her playfulness and pranks that the staff, fellow residents and volunteers joined in on. She was visited by neighbors from Meadowbrook Drive that she had long been separated from. The loving care and close attention that she was given provided Yuko and her family great peace even though they were literally almost a world apart.  Julie remembers that while she became the decision-maker in Yuko’s absence, Shizuka’s last days on Earth approached and the insight and assistance that the social workers & chaplains provided was especially helpful to her. Julie reflected that they not only listened and gave sincere feedback, but that they would also provide sustenance, bringing food or drink, and making sure that she was caring for herself during this incredibly challenging time. Yuko expressed profound gratitude for the care that Hospice provided within the Martin-Linsin Residence. For Shizuka, Hospice was making a home out of a new place. Hospice was being loved by new friends and reuniting with old. Hospice was coming alongside and shining a bright light in what may otherwise have been a very dark and isolating time.


While radically different, each experience holds the essence of Hospice at its core. People taking care of people at the end of their lives - making each day count. Today, we’re inviting you to join our team and help us to make each day count by making a gift to our organization. Your donation is the medicine that provides relief, the answered call in the middle of the night, and the reassurance that comes with that call. Your donation is the visit to the person with no family or friends, that especially in their final months, weeks, or days of life, desperately needs evidence of human kindness and compassion. Your donation even provides 13 months of bereavement care to those loved ones who are left reeling from the loss of someone special to them.


Every year Hospice of Orleans, Inc. supports approximately 150 families in our community.

Please thoughtfully consider making a gift, and know that by giving,

YOU are making every day count  for those people we serve and their loved ones.




Thank you so much for your help!



Brittany Dix

Music Therapist & Development Manager


PS- If you’d like to learn more about our organization, our programs, or other opportunities that you can help with, please reach out to me at (585) 589-0809 or