EverHeart Hospice provides lasting legacies to patients, families


Staff report

GREENVILLE — Throughout the past 40 years, EverHeart Hospice has cared for over 16,800 patients and their families. Each day their care team members help fulfill EverHeart’s vision of being the prominent hospice for an exceptional and individualized end-of-life experience. One of the many ways they carry out this vision is through their Legacy Program and unique hand photography.

These hand photographs can be tailored to each family. They could be as simple as patients holding their loved one’s hand or more personalized with the patient holding a family bible or precious piece of jewelry. EverHeart Hospice staff capture the photographs while turning the session into a special memory made with the patient and their family. The photographs are then printed, framed, and presented to the family.

Carrie Whatley, Certified Music Therapist at EverHeart Hospice, assists patients when creating keepsakes through the Legacy Program. She reflected, “Providing legacy-building opportunities to patients and their loved ones has always been one of my most favorite parts of my job. Every project created is individualized to the person we are serving, so each is unique in its own way when finished. I have seen patients find closure and peace at end-of-life through legacy building because they are able to leave a piece of themselves behind before they pass. In return, loved ones are comforted through having a small part of the person they cherished.”

One Family’s Legacy

This past summer, the first family received these memorable photographs as part of the new addition to EverHeart’s Legacy Program.

Bruce Borgerding’s family wanted to make the remaining time they had with him as memorable as possible. Bruce, a Navy Veteran, had a special end-of-life goal to hold a commitment ceremony with his fiancé, Jerena, while he was at the Hospice Care Center. With the help of the EverHeart Hospice team, plans were set in motion to organize a small wedding ceremony for Bruce and Jerena, with his siblings and family present to share in their special moment. Unfortunately, while arranging the ceremony, Bruce became weaker. He and Jerena knew all that mattered to them was to share their commitment with one another.

With EverHeart Hospice Chaplain Jacque Collins officiating and Music Therapist Carrie Whatley singing their favorite songs, Bruce and Jerena shared an intimate ceremony filled with love for one another. It was important to Bruce that his mother, Marilyn, was also there, and so she shared in the joy of this memory too. During the ceremony, Bruce’s care team were able to take photos of Bruce holding both Marilyn and Jerena’s hands to help them forever remember the moment. That same afternoon, Bruce passed peacefully surrounded by the love of those closest to him. Bruce’s family shared that they will forever be grateful for the support they received by the caring staff at Everheart Hospice.

Generosity Makes this Possible

Special programs like these would not be possible without the generosity and support of area businesses, organizations, and individual donors. As a non-profit, EverHeart Hospice utilizes donations and grants to help fund new programs that go above and beyond the patient care provided. Gifts from the Harry Stephens Memorial, Inc., Cooper Family Foundation, and Darke County Foundation helped fund heartbeat teddy bears and the addition of the hand photographs to the Legacy Program.

Amy Pearson, also a Certified Music Therapist at EverHeart Hospice, discussed her recent experience capturing hand photographs with a patient and their family, “There is a simplicity to the hand photographs that can speak volumes. I was blown away when I saw the framed photo of the picture I had taken of our dying hospice patient holding the hand of her only son. It was so touching. The image of those hands seemed to tell a story of hard work, love, and understanding.”

Looking to the Future

EverHeart Hospice looks forward to building upon its Legacy Program throughout the next 40 years. Carrie shared, “Through heartbeats, pictures, and recordings, we bring patients and loved ones together again while helping the patient’s stories continue on.”

For more information on the services EverHeart Hospice provides to patients and families or ways you can contribute to their Legacy Program, please visit www.everhearthospice.org or call 800-417-7535 option 6.

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