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Nancy Stevenson – An Artist, Adventurer and Friend

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by Regional Hospice and Home Care Volunteer, Debbie Bodie

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A postcard painted by Nancy Stevenson

Walking through the halls of Regional Hospice and Home Care’s Center for Comfort Care and Healing on the way to visit Nancy Stevenson, I quickly got a sense of the incredible human being I was about to meet. Volunteers and staff had bright smiles across their faces when asked about Nancy. It was clear that her genuine warmth, positive outlook and grace-filled spirit touch the lives of everyone she encounters.

Creator and World Traveler

Nancy Stevenson is a creative woman with the heart of an artist and the soul of an adventurer. As an artist and illustrator, she has a passion for children’s literature and nonprofit educational organizations. She has worked for Sesame Street in various roles since 1978, as well as illustrating children’s books for Disney and The Magic School Bus among others. She has been painting and writing for most of her adult life, passions she continues to pursue. Even from her hospice room, Nancy has immersed herself with painting watercolors and mailing them as thank you notes to loved ones. An avid traveler, Nancy loves to seize the opportunity for adventure. She has a love of sailing and traveling. Some of her favorite memories include sailing off the coast of Belize, exploring Italy, touring Ireland, Turkey, Guyana, being captivated by the beauty of the South of France, and chartering a catamaran with 8-10 of her closest friends.

Beloved by Family and Friends

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Nancy surrounded by friends.

Nancy reminisces with joy and happiness about her many wonderful family memories. These include big family reunions in Florida she attended in the summers when Nancy and her brother-in-law turned the garage into a studio for puppet shows and arts and crafts for the whole family to enjoy. She loves her nephew, and her niece who lives locally and visits often. She lovingly displays in her room the beautiful pillows with painted artwork prepared by her niece’s children. Nancy lived in New York City since 1977 and speaks tenderly about her Astoria neighborhood, church and community of friends. Her face lights up when speaking of the numerous friends who continue to visit her from New York. From her landlord to her co-workers to her church family, Nancy has received an outpouring of visitors, cards and gifts. Each of these gestures of kindness are sincerely cherished and appreciated.

A Magnetic Personality

Nancy has had so many battles to fight over the years and has faced them with grace and fortitude. In addition to the friends and family she touches, she has chosen to share her cancer journey with the world through her blog, hopeandcourage.com. Many strangers discovered her blog who are suffering with a similar diagnosis to Nancy’s. She lovingly emails them words of encouragement and support. In addition, Nancy speaks of the new appreciation she has developed for older people as they struggle to live with the limitations that age has placed upon them. She sees her illness as an opportunity to show more compassion and kindness towards others. She has achieved a state of peace and grace that she firmly believes is a gift from God.

An Advocate of Hospice Care

Nancy’s first experience with hospice was over twenty years ago, when she lost her beloved dad who had received compassionate hospice care. With this positive experience in mind, Nancy decided to stop treatment and seek the help of hospice after her last scans came back with bleak results. Living in Queens without a primary caregiver, she tried for a while to “keep all the balls in the air” while staying home, managing rotating caregivers, obtaining groceries and dealing with the pain, which was difficult to control.

Grateful to Regional Hospice and Home Care

Nancy with Pet Partner, Abbey, and Volunteer, Roseanne Loring

Nancy with Pet Partner, Abbey, and Volunteer, Roseanne Loring

With the aid of her niece who lives in Connecticut, Nancy learned about Regional Hospice and Home Care’s Center for Comfort Care and Healing. When a room became available in the Center, she felt that it was “God’s providence.” She speaks with sincere gratitude for all of the help and kindness she has experienced at the Center. She has studied the history of the building and knows that it was built with love. After some very unpleasant stays in the hospital, Nancy relishes the way that you can feel the love emanating from every room and every person at Regional Hospice. “Every day I feel God just confirms that this is where I am supposed to be.” Her pain is under control now and she enjoys the beautiful view from her room, the spa treatments, the volunteers who visit often, the therapy dogs, and the excellent medical care. “Everyone is so sweet and nice and helpful and will do anything for you. I am just so grateful.” Nancy credits Regional Hospice with enabling her to feel safe and stress-free at a time in her life when she truly relishes the peace.

Just as blessed as Nancy feels to be part of the hospice community, we the hospice community feel equally as blessed to have the opportunity to experience the beauty and grace of Nancy Stevenson!

UPDATE: We are sad to report that Nancy lost her courageous battle with cancer. Our condolences go to her family and friends.

Pet Partners Bring Peace to Hospice Patients

Some of our most dedicated volunteers have four legs

Sophie knew exactly what to do. When she saw her new friend was in pain, she gently rested beside him, allowing him to stroke her soft fur for nearly an hour. Sophie is not a nurse by training, but she has earned the moniker none-the-less as one of a team of furry helpers who bring comfort to the patients and staff of Regional Hospice and Home Care.

Antonio Munoz and Sophie

Antonio Muñoz & “Nurse Sophie”

Animals Have A Special Healing Sense

Sophie’s owner, and fellow hospice volunteer, Antonio Muñoz is in awe of his sweet pet’s ability to soothe those in need. “She just knows when someone needs her help,” Antonio shared. Sometimes those in need are patients or their family members. Other times, it is a staff member or volunteer who is having a difficult day. It doesn’t make any difference to Sophie or the other Pet Partner Volunteers, they greet everyone they meet with a nuzzle and a wagging tail, spreading warmth and cheer throughout the Center for Comfort Care and Healing.

Animal Therapy is Serious Business

But make no mistake, being a Pet Partner is not an easy job. Our animal therapy dogs are certified to meet rigorous training standards by organizations such as the Delta Society, Therapy Dogs International and Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue (ROAR). Pet owners (also known as handlers) must also complete volunteer training, as their presence and support is just as valuable to the patients they visit. The benefits of animal therapy have been well-researched and include pain reduction, stress relief, emotional support and more.

Roseanne Loring and her golden retriever, Abbey

Roseanne Loring and Abbey

Pet Partners Have Fun Too

Roseanne Loring and her golden retriever, Abbey, have been Pet Partner Volunteers with RHHC for over 2 years. The two beautiful blondes are generally sporting matching outfits – often in shades of pink or with a holiday theme. Roseanne even adorns Abbey with lavender spray, a scent that is known to encourage relaxation. The pair are an exceptional example of the many ways our volunteers go above and beyond to make everyone they encounter feel good. Roseanne is very humble about their service stating, “Abbey and I get so much more than we give.”

Dorie Kelly and Benny, the golden retrieve

Dorie Kelly and Benny

All Shapes and Sizes – One Mission

Upon first meeting Benny, also a golden retriever, you might be a bit intimidated by his size. But, Ben is truly a gentle giant. With a light tug of the leash, his handler, Dorie Kelly is always able to gain his attention. Just one touch of Benny’s long, soft fur will melt away any fears. As is true of our human volunteers, our pet helpers come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing remains – their presence at Regional Hospice and Home Care provides peace, comfort and a lot of love.

 

Happy Volunteer Month to our four-legged friends and their caring partners! Your service to our patients, their family and friends, and to our entire staff is greatly appreciated.
Regional Hospice and Home Care's Pet Partners