Next Generation Steps in at Hospice
New generation steps into leadership role at Richardson Hospice
by Jeff Pederson
Sheboygan Falls News Editor
It has been nine years since the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice first opened its doors in Sheboygan Falls in 2007.
Founded through the strength of a loving promise Joe Richard-son II made to his wife of 53 years, Sharon, who died after a seven-year battle with cancer in 2004, the hospice has forged a nearly unrivaled reputation for its exemplary level of care and compassion to those in need throughout the Sheboygan County area.
As the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice prepares to mark its first decade of service, the next generation of family leadership has stepped in to help guide the mission.
After serving on the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Development Committee for the past four years, Joe and Sharon's grandson, Justin Richardson, recently assumed the role of Development Committee chair.
“I have really enjoyed my time on the Development Committee and helping to keep my grandmother's dream alive in Sheboygan County,” Richardson said. “My grandfather set out on a mission to build the hospice as a promise to my grandmother that Sheboygan County would have a hospice center dedicated to serving the residents of the county. I am proud to carry that commitment forward.”
Under Richardson's guidance, the Development Committee oversees several special fundraising events throughout the year, including the Art and Wine Festival at Blind Horse Winery in June, Garden Remembrances in July, the Annual Celebration Dinner in October and the Memorial Tree Lighting in December.
“We have 10 members on the Development Committee that do a great job working to raise money for the hospice's patient care fund, which helps families in need of financial assistance for hospice services,” Richardson said. “Without the generosity of all of our volunteers, donors and supporters, none of this would be possible. I am grateful for everyone that gives of themselves to help with the hospice cause.”
The Development Committee is also highly actively in seeking gifts and managing grants.
“The Development Committee is a highly engaged committee,” Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Development and Com-munications Director Angelia Neumann said. “If you are familiar with the people on the committee at all, you know that they are on a mission. Justin has really jumped in and led the charge. It is great to have another member of the Richardson family involved, because the Richardson family means so much to this organization.”
Richardson, who also recently joined the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Board of Directors and Marketing Committee, says he has been inspired by the work of those involved in the organization.
“It is amazing to see all of the people in our community that are giving their time to serve,” Richardson said. “There are so many people that are invigorated by volunteering. Giving time out of their day to help others brings them joy, which is truly amazing.
“I know this is important to my family too,” he said. “This is a mission which demands and deserves a lot of time and resources to do right.”
Neumann says the hospice recently completed a year overflowing with success.
“Last year was probably our biggest year of growth and refocus,” Neumann said. “We put a big emphasis on our home hospice program, which comprises the majority of the care we provide on a regular basis.
“Sometimes a lot of the focus gets placed on the hospice center, so sometimes I think our home care program can get overlooked a bit,” she said. “A person's home is the most comfortable place for them to be and with home care we are typically able to provide se-vices sooner, which is better for the whole family. Too often families wait until the last days or weeks to get hospice care and it doesn't have to be that way.
“The routine level of hospice care can be met in the home,” she said. “Patients come to the center when they have higher-end acute needs or for a couple of days or a weekend to allow the family to get a bit of break.”
According to Neumann, several hospice programs and services expanded in 2015.
“Our grief support program really took off in 2015,” Neumann said. “In October, we expanded our grief support to include children between the ages of 6 and 18.
“We also continue to expand our nursing home and assisted living programs by providing hospice education to staff in those facilities where patients are receiving service,” she said. “Our No One Dies Alone and Tuck-In programs also were successful in expanding opportunities for our volunteers to make a difference. These are the types of initiatives that have helps us to establish ourselves as the hospice of choice in the area.”
In fact, the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice was recently honored as the recipient of the Non-Profit of the Year Award at the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Gala.
The hospice was also selected by county residents as Sheboygan County's Best Hospice of the Year in 2014 and 2015.
“We changed our tag line in 2015 to, 'Caring for our Community,'” Neumann said. “We like to take advantage of every opportunity we have to give back and educate school groups, civic organizations, businesses or community members as a whole.
“We have been focusing on increasing our advance directive training and many of us at the hospice are Meals on Wheels volunteers,” she said.
Neumann says the hospice recently made its board room available to the public as a community meeting space.
“I am pleased to say that we have opened up our board room to the public for meetings and gatherings,” Neumann said. “The Sheboygan Falls Kiwanis Club meetings there every week and the Sheboygan Falls School Board and Chamber Main Street have also held meetings there. The best part about it is that the room is available 24 hours a day. All you have to do is give us a call and reserve a time.”
Richardson believe the best is yet to come for the hospice.
“The generosity of the people of Sheboygan Falls is something to be proud of,” Richardson said. “They are generous with their time, money and overall level of commitment to service, which is unmatched. Based on that level of support and commitment, I think we are looking forward to a prosperous future.
Contrary to what some may think, Neumann says positivity is a hospice staple.
“People have asked me how I could work at the hospice because it must be such a sad place, but it's really not,” Neumann said. “There is so much joy in the air and the perspective on life and relationships is amazing. Being around that kind of positive energy helps to take away the fear of the unknown that we deal with every day.
“I think people in Sheboygan County are starting to get the value of hospice and all that it encompasses,” she said. “More people are taking advantage of it and more people are definitely volunteering to be part of its success story.”
For more information on the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, call 467-1800 or visit www.ssrhospicehome.org