Sir Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
This week-end something wonderful happened . . . the coming together of people from all geographies, all walks of life, all areas of interest. They came together for one wonderful thing, to help Windber Regional Hospice. Now, some of you may be wondering what they did, but back up a few lines and read Sir Winston’s quote. It was the horse show, you know…Pole Bending, Box Keyhole, 50 Yard Dash, Flag Race, Hay Bale Tunnel, Dollar Bareback.
The Greater Johnstown Saddle Club and Golden Star Horse Farm came together once again to raise money for the patients cared for in our palliative care unit and hospice. The cumulative sum needed each year to cover the costs of the efforts in these two areas is generally over $300,000 and this weekend, thousands of dollars were raised toward this need. Thanks to efforts like this one, neither those who can or those who can’t afford it will ever know the difference in their care and treatment.
As in the movie "Casablanca," our own Frankie Bock and her team generated the list of usual suspects to make this all happen. The list went something like this: our donors, sponsors, patrons, show participants, friends, staff of both the Hospice and Medical Center, businesses, and the greatest volunteers anywhere. If you have no idea who is represented by this list, simply stop by any function touched by the hospice and you will see these faces, hundreds of faces, who make up that list of volunteers, supporters, and sponsors. It’s a wonderful list of truly amazing people, all geared toward one goal, helping families who need hospice care.
One of our non-hospice employees walked up to me with a pretty, fifteen year old girl and said, "Nick, I would like you to meet Lori, her mom passed away in hospice. I just wanted to bring her here today." That’s what we’re dealing with: people who care about their fellow human beings.
As my grandson walked up to the show area to look at the horses, a non-Windber physician came up to me with the tallest horse I’d ever seen and said, "If he’d like a ride, I’d be happy to let him ride my horse for the judging." He, along with a few dozen other kids, won a trophy, and that trophy never left his hand the rest of the day. People taking care of people. People reaching out, sharing, working to help other people.
There was food, plenty of food. There was plenty of great food, prepared, sold and served by this group of wonderful volunteers. There were children’s games and activities, a Chinese auction and drawings. It was people caring for people: feeding them, nurturing them, watching out for their human, physical needs.
One of the baskets that was being raffled was called a kid’s basket and in it was grooming equipment; brushes, oils and other wonderful accoutrements for grooming horses; for teaching care and nurturing at a very young age. Groom a horse, love one of the creatures of the universe, and the universe will teach you to pass that love onto others.
It’s all about kindness. It’s all about giving because in giving we receive. Saint Francis of Assisi once said, "Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” This group of usual suspects live those words as they care for each others, for their patients, their friends, their loved ones. Hospice is amazing, and unless or until this country understands completely the beauty of this program, we will continue to suffer death in hospital rooms crowded together without support, without nurturing, without love.
From our Hospice physician, Dr. Kelly Warshal…
"So now, after a few days with us, I am sending the patient home on nothing, no drugs, nothing but our own hospice blend of flower essences like angel’s trumpet to help to prepare him for the transition into the spiritual world. He is talking, blowing us kisses, and eating pudding. I LOVE MY JOB!”
Become a Windber Hospice volunteer. You’ll love your job, too.