Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Month 6 of 48: Vista (Northland) Hospice

Death. Dying. No, we haven’t lost all hope in month 6 of this blog. But, we’re turning our focus to a topic that most people want to avoid. So many of us are actively thinking about how we want to LIVE, but when it comes to the business of dying, or facing the death of our loved ones, we tend to shut down and not apply those same principles.

This is where organizations like Northland Hospice & Palliative Care (dba) Vista Hospice (Northland) step in – to lighten the financial and emotional burden throughout the final journey of life for those in need. For 34 years, Northland has been delivering end-of-life care to northern Arizona residents, regardless of their ability to pay. They are rooted in the belief that everyone has the right to experience the best quality of life, and they will provide hospice care where AND how the patient desires. They have gone so far as to delivery hospice care to a homeless individual living in the woods who did not want to come into town for services.

Available Grief/Caregiver Services
In speaking with Kathy Simmons, Northland’s Community Development Director, what struck me (Jacki) the most was the breadth and depth of this organization. As with many of the multiple-hat-wearing non-profit organizations in Flagstaff, Northland is about SO much more than hospice care. The ongoing support and grief counseling that families receive lasts for more than a year. Northland also offers a suicide support group for those who have lost a loved one in this manner, an especially important resource in our local schools. As we all age, there is a high probability that we will eventually become caretakers for the people who once took care of us. Northland’s Caregiver’s Support Group allows those filling this role to rely on others in the community for support and understanding.

The most visible parts of Northland are the actual hospice facilities – the beautiful Olivia White Hospice Home, and the soon-to-be-opened Forest House. Most of their fundraising activities go to operation of these facilities, with their biggest one being the Run for Life. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve participated in this race, but I do know that it’s one of my favorite of the Flagstaff Summer Running Series for the simple fact that the course is FLAT. As in, not a single hill. My kind of course. This year’s event is on June 24, and we’d love to have a huge #48Months contingency out there. If running/walking a 5K or 10K isn’t your thing, they need hundreds of volunteers (details below).

As Kathy told me, people don’t want to talk about hospice, but we need to talk about hospice sooner. And while hospice care isn’t something you want to think about using, I am comforted to know that Flagstaff has an organization like Northland to provide these valuable services.

How can you help? 

Run for Life! It's flat and on pavement!
Events: The Run for Life on June 24 is Northland’s primary fundraiser. The best thing you can do is register to participate! There are 5K and 10K options, and the course takes you through downtown Flagstaff and through the Coconino Estates neighborhood. Have I mentioned there are no hills? If you have a group that wants to participate, but the registration fee is too steep, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Kathy. Running isn’t your thing? They need TONS of volunteers to put on a race of this magnitude. You can register for the race here: If you’re interested in volunteering, call Kathy Simmons at 928.779.1227. Proceeds from this race go straight into the new Forest House.

Cash: There is an easy donation section right on the home page of the Northland website, helping them get to their $250,000 fundraising goal for the Forest House. Donations provide patient financial assistance for those who are uninsured and under-insured, as well as help furnish the house.

Volunteer: Northland relies on a strong network of volunteers to accomplish its mission. Volunteer opportunities range from cooking family dinners at the hospice facilities to providing administrative support in the main office. Applications and information:

Donations: One of Northland’s ongoing fundraising endeavors is the Hodgepodge Thrift Store, located at 452 N. Switzer Canyon. They accept donations of clothing, furniture, décor, etc. and volunteers keep the store open to the public.

For those who don’t live in Flagstaff, most communities have a non-profit hospice organization. We encourage you to connect with them, learn about their mission, and how you can help them make an impact in your community.

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