Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
The annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner will be held on Sun., June 2nd at St. Peter’s Parish Center. Dinner will be provided, and a guest speaker will be present. Mark your calendars and plan to join your fellow volunteers for this inspiring event! (Please note the change in date. The original date was May 19th.) RSVP by Mon., May 20, via email, or text or call Linda at 570-404-2180. All are welcome to bring a guest!
It seems like we haven’t had a guest for a while, but this is not for lack of inquiries. We strive to accept guests that will be a good fit for Samaritan House. As a result, not all inquiries turn into admissions. Initial contact is made to the Administrative Medical Facilitator by almost anyone, including, (but not limited to,) a family member, a friend, a social worker, or a Hospice program. The potential guest and family are then interviewed by the Medical Facilitator. A questionnaire is completed by the Medical Facilitator and the guest or family. Questions are in regard to the diagnosis, a guest’s weight, and mental status, and whether or not they are in a Hospice program. The Medical Facilitator consults with the Medical Director, Dr. Guelig, and UPMC Susquehanna Hospice, to determine eligibility.
Many of our recent inquiries were not eligible for Samaritan House for various reasons. These include the fact that the referrals were not currently enrolled in Hospice, their mental status was not appropriate, their weight was over our weight limit (200 pounds), or they were deemed too fragile to move. If a referral is deemed appropriate for Samaritan House, we proceed to determine a date for admission and notify the volunteers to start a schedule. We do not accept a guest until the first four days of the schedule are filled. Once the initial days are full, we work with Hospice to arrange a transfer, acquire any medical equipment necessary, and prepare the house. Samaritan House volunteers and Hospice staff are present to welcome the guest to Samaritan House.
Thanks to generous donations to Samaritan House, we have been able to undertake a light renovation of the downstairs bedroom. New ceiling tiles were installed five inches higher, diminishing the basement feel of the room, while new pot lights brightened the space. A fresh coat of paint has cleaned up the walls and moldings to make the room seem cozy and clean. In addition, new doors have been installed. They are similar to the upstairs doors to tie the spaces together. New carpeting completes the transformation. The home-made curtains and new furniture will make this room a restful and reflection enabling getaway for family and volunteers as needed.
All volunteers are invited to attend the next Book Group Meeting on Wed., May 15th at 6:30pm at the Samaritan House. Participants will discuss “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander, M.D. Bring a light snack or beverage to share. For more information, contact Laurie Coffee (570) 549-2210.
Notes on "Preparing for a Good End of Life" by Katy Butler
The following notes are from an article published in the Wall Street Journal on February 8,
2109, “Preparing for a Good End of Life” by Katy Butler.
According to a recent study (2017), 7 in 10 Americans hope to die at home. Half die in nursing homes and hospitals and more than a tenth moved from one to the other in their last three days. Nearly half of dying Americans suffer from uncontrolled pain. More than a quarter of Medicare members are in an Intensive Care Unit during their last month and a fifth of Americans die in an ICU.
Through interviews with top experts in end of life medicine and with people who have witnessed good…and hard deaths, the author has some suggestions for preparing for a good end of life.
1. “Have a Vision.” Who do you need to thank or forgive? Do you want your favorite music playing? Talk to those you love about what “quality of life” means to you. Make sure that you have someone as your “health care agent” who will honor your wishes. This may not always be a family member who may not want to “let you go”.
2. Stay in charge. If your doctor isn’t asking about what is important to you, find another who will listen!
3. “Know the trajectory of your disease.” Ask for a visual of how you might feel during treatments with your disease. While this is not totally reliable it can help you recognize when it is time to get more help and to consider going from an emphasis on a cure to an emphasis on comfort.
4. “Find your tribe and arrange caregivers.” You need one totally committed person to be the linchpin and as many volunteers as possible.
5. “Take command of the space.” Rearrange the physical environment, wherever you are, to bring calm and meaning to the room Favorite flowers, music. Family photos, religious icons can all help to create a “sacred feeling”.
6. “Think of death as a rite of passage.” “Don’t reduce the end of your life to a medical procedure or strip it of ceremony and humanity. Make sure you live and die as a full human being”.
The dying process may not be easy, but if you imagine what you want it to be, arrange support, and plan you can keep some control of your life all the way to the end.
This article is from Katy Butler’ new book, “The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life” which was published this February. https://www.wsj.com/articles/preparing-for-a-good-end-of-life-11549643346
Samaritan House has the ability to help our guest realize a good end of life. We do this in several ways. We allow our guests to stay in charge. We become part of their tribe. We allow our guests to take charge of their space by encouraging each guest to bring whatever is needed to bring calm and meaning to their room. When we know the trajectory of the disease, we are able to make sure that no one dies alone. Every one of us that death is a part of our life’s journey to be validated as a rite of passage. This was an article that truly validates what we do at Samaritan House!
Alternate Ways to Serve
Check and clean gutters annually.
Care of shrubbery and mulching around the house.
Remove sticks from lawn as needed.
Funding for TV service (second box for guest bedroom as well.)
Eight white bath towels, hand towels and washcloths are needed
Handyman for minor repairs and to check house as needed.
Current volunteers are asked to share these needs with family and friends who may be able to assist. Contact Linda Sampson (570) 404-2180 if are able to serve.
New Steering Committee Members
Mel Rupert ( Facility Manager)
Coleen Evert, Michele Combs, Patty Kramer, Lillian Fox and Julie Stager
From the "Book of Joy"
"The end of life raises profound questions for man: What will death be like? Will I be alone or surrounded by my loved ones? What awaits me after death? Will I be welcomed by God's mercy? To face these questions with gentleness and sensitivity -- this is the task of all who work with the dying. Death conceals even from the Christian the direct vision of what is to come, but the believer can trust in the Lord's promise: 'Because I live, you will live also.' (John 14:19)
~ John Paul II
Dinner will follow the presentation. Meat and beverages will be provided, and each volunteer is asked to bring a dish to share. All are welcome to bring a guest as well. Please RSVP via email or text (570)- 404-2180 no later than Monday, April 2nd. The Committee looks forward to seeing you there.
Need for New Volunteers
The April Book Club selection is "Dying Well" by Ira Byock, MD. To purchase, visit our local bookstore "From My Shelf" or Amazon.com.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
For more information about this beautiful ministry, please contact Jan Bernethy at 307-267-0677.
From "Tattoos on the Heart"
Our common hospitality longs to find room for those who are left out. It's just who we are if allowed to foster something different, something more greatly resembling what God had in mind. Perhaps, together, we can teach others how to bear the beams of love, persons becoming persons, right before our eyes. Returned to ourselves.
Leon Dufour, a world-renowned Jesuit theologian and Scripture scholar, a year before he died at ninety-nine, confided in a Jesuit who was caring for him. "I have written so many books on God, but after all that, what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you're talking to, the one right in front of you."
About the Author:
Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest and the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries. He makes approximately two hundred speaking appearances per year and has received numerous humanitarian awards, among them the California Peace Prize. He lives in Los Angeles.
From "Dying Well"
About the Author:
Ira Byock, M.D., has specialized for the past eighteen years in caring for the dying, and is director of a Robert Wood Foundation national program to improve end-of-life care. Dr. Byock also served as president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment." Thich Nhat Hahn
The annual Alternative Christmas Fair will be held on Saturday, December 2nd, at the First Presbyterian Church in Wellsboro. Volunteers are needed for one or two hour shifts. This event raises funds for the Samaritan House and brings about community awareness of the Samaritan House ministry. New volunteers are welcome and encouraged to assist! Please call Lillian Fox (570-772-3792) for more information, or if you would like to volunteer an hour of your time on Dicken’s Day.
Construction on a new entrance to the Samaritan House will begin soon. The entryway will be at ground level on the back of the house, which will be especially helpful in during the winter months when the driveway can be hazardous. More information to be shared after the project begins.
The Samaritan House Book Group recently sponsored “The El Camino: An Evening with Jan Bernethy.” Jan is a Samaritan House volunteer who walked the El Camino de Santiage in Spain. She shared her spiritual journey, and unexpected moments of grace, as she made this pilgrimage. The event was enjoyed by all in attendance. Sincere thanks to Jan for sharing her story!
The Book Group usually meets on the first Monday of each month (unless the Parish Center is not available. (When this is the case, you will receive an email update.) Participants share a light snack. There is no need to read each book. Rather, all are welcome to come and enjoy the company of fellow volunteers. For more information call Laurie Coffee 570-549-2210 or Julie Stager 570-376-2424.
November Book Group Meeting: November 13th at 6:30pm.
“Extreme Measures” by Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD.
December Book Group Meeting: December 18th at 6:00pm at Jan Bernethy’s home.
Bring a light snack to share. Book selection will be determined at November meeting.
A warm welcome to several new volunteers: Marian Bowers, Jim & Barb Dinsmore, Stephanie Florence, Diane Franco, Beverly Hawkes, Lee Mentzer, Patricia Minnich, Julie Mitchell, Cora Roth, and Nancy Cobb.
Mark Your Calendars!
The next Volunteer Appreciation Event will be held on Sunday, April 15th, 2018 at St. Peter’s Parish Center. The theme will be “End of Life Planning”, a discussion about talking with family and health care providers about end-of-life matters.
- Medications will continue to be stored in the pink box in the cupboard. Medications and boxes are not to be kept on the desk or on the cupboard, except when being dispensed. Medications that are delivered to the house should be immediately placed in the cupboard.
- When medications are given, the time must be documented with an “AM” or “PM”. Dispensed medications must be consistently documented.
The Samaritan House Steering Committee would like to thank Jackie Murphy for her many years of service as a committee member. Jackie recently resigned from this position, but will continue to serve as a volunteer and intake resource person.
Samaritan House Website
The Samaritan House website at http://www.samaritanhouseofwellsboro.com is a good way to educate family and friends about our end-of-life ministry, and to encourage others to consider becoming volunteers. Applications and Confidentiality Statements can be downloaded from the tab “Volunteer Information”. Consider sharing our website as a way of recruiting new volunteers!
“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,
I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains,
I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
"Like Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, Zitter's book shows how knowing when to do nothing is as vital to being a good doctor as knowing when do to everything."
--New York Times Book Review
"Required reading for every young medical student and every family member wondering how to help the people they love live well to the end."
—Ellen Goodman, founder of The Conversation Project
"A stunning portrait of the ways decisions in the intensive care unit shape the way we live—and die—now. Whether we live with illness, love someone who is facing these decisions, or care for them professionally, Dr. Zitter has written a call to action that none of us can ignore.”
—Anthony Back MD, author of Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope
About the Author: Jessica Nutik Zitter, M.D., MPH, is an expert on the medical experience of death and dying. She attended Stanford University and Case Western Reserve Medical School, and completed her residency in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She was a fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California San Francisco.
Zitter is double-boarded in the two specialties of pulmonary/critical care medicine and palliative care medicine—a rare combination. She writes for The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Pacific Standard, The Atlantic, and Journal of Palliative Medicine, and is featured in Extremis, an Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary about end-of-life decision-making in an ICU.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
The Prayer Shawl Ministry meets once a month following the 8:30am Mass at St. Peter’s. The group gathers near the Blessed Sacrament.The members prayerfully knit and crochet shawls to be shared with the sick. For more information, or to request a shawl, contact Jan Bernethy at (307) 267-0677.
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service.
That Thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.
- “Dear Abby” Columnist
Many volunteers and their guests enjoyed a delicious dinner and informative presentation at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner held in April. The event was a celebration of the ministry we all share at Samaritan House. Volunteers of various faiths and religious backgrounds came together with a common desire to serve the dying and their families. Members of the Prayer Shawl ministry displayed their beautiful handiwork, and spoke briefly about their service to our parish and community. The evening was enjoyed by all in attendance! Special thanks to Dr. Ed Guelig for his discussion on the criteria for hospice care.
The front entrance and sidewalk at the Samaritan House have been renovated, and plans are in place to construct a vestibule on the lower back side of the house. This area will be used as an entrance from the parking, and will include space for coats and boots. These renovations are possible due to generous donations made to the Samaritan House.
The Samaritan House Book Club has been meeting on a monthly basis since March of 2017.
Participants meet on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 pm in the Adult Education Room at the St. Peter’s Parish Center. Generally, about eight volunteers gather for these meetings, which is a good number for conversation and sharing. Several books have been discussed, including: An Army in Heaven and When Breath Becomes Air. The group is currently reading Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. The discussions focus on the book of the month, although each conversation is rich with personal experiences, beliefs, and feelings about life and death.
Please consider joining the group on Monday, August 7th, or any first Monday of the month. Participants share a light snack and a little wine. There is no need to read each book. Rather, all are welcome to come and enjoy the company of fellow volunteers! For more information call Laurie Coffee 570-549-2210 or Julie Stager 570-376-2424.
An Opportunity to Serve
Several of our Samaritan House volunteers are active with Susquehanna Hospice as well. Those who may be interested in hospice work when we do not have a guest at the Samaritan House are welcome to contact Bob Coppadge (Hospice Volunteer Liaison for Susquehanna Health.) Bob would be happy to discuss cross training and opportunities to serve those in need of hospice care. He can be reached at email@example.com or (570) 723-0760.
A Collection of Favorite Quotes from “Being Mortal”, by Atul Gawande.
“All we ask is to be allowed to remain the writers of our own story. That story is ever changing. Over the course of our lives, we may encounter unimaginable difficulties. Our concerns and desires may shift. But whatever happens, we want to retain the freedom to shape our lives in ways consistent with our character and loyalties. This is why the betrayals of body and mind that threaten to erase our character and memory remain among our most awful tortures. The battle of being mortal is the battle to maintain the integrity of one’s life—to avoid becoming so diminished or dissipated or subjugated that who you are becomes disconnected from who you were or who you want to be.”
“Whenever serious sickness or injury strikes and your body or mind breaks down, the vital questions are the same: What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes? What are your fears and what are your hopes? What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make? And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?”
The season of Spring turns our thoughts toward the upcoming Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to be held on April 3oth at St. Peter’s Parish Center. The program will begin at 5pm with a presentation about the criteria for hospice, given by Dr. Ed Guelig. Dinner will follow the presentation, and door prizes will be awarded. Many of you plan to attend this event, which is a celebration of the ministry we share at Samaritan House. Last minute reservations can be made by calling (570) 404-2180 no later than Friday, April 14th.
Samaritan House has received national recognition through a recent article featured in the National Catholic Reporter! Click on the link below to read "Samaritan House is a 'spa for the dying', by Peter Feuerherd.
This recognition reflects the dedication and service of each one of you, and is shared with deepest appreciation.
A new washing machine has been installed in the basement. New emergency lighting has also been installed. It is designed to last for about two hours during an outage. The front door and kitchen will soon be painted, and a major outdoor renovation is being planned to create a safer entrance to the house.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
The Prayer Shawl Ministry will meet near the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday, April 30th, following the 8:30am Mass at St. Peter’s. Participants will prayerfully knit and crochet the shawls to be shared with the sick. For more information, or to request a shawl, contact Jan Bernethy at (307) 267-0677.
The Samaritan House Book Group gathered twice this year. Volunteers in attendance have enjoyed thoughtful discussions and sharing, and refreshments. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 8th at 6:30pm in the Adult Ed room at the Parish Center. The group will reflect on the book “When Breath Becomes Air”, by Paul Kalanithi.
Some books can be borrowed from the Samaritan House or the Green Free Library. To purchase, visit our local bookstore “From My Shelf”. http://www.wellsborobookstore.com/
Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled shift. This allows for time to read the log and to change/turn a guest if necessary.
- Confidentiality is a very important part of the Samaritan House ministry. Please remember to respect the privacy of our guests and their families. The back door is to be locked between the hours of 9pm and 7am.
- Forms for the log book are stored in folders in the brown cupboard beside the desk. These include a new Master Signature List (gold in color) for signing when a volunteer dispenses medication(s) for the first time.
- Housekeeping lists and the pink medication sheets are now two-sided.
- Volunteers who are scheduled for the 7am to 11am shift are asked to empty and record urinary output in the volunteer log. Please circle this in red, to better assess a guest’s status.
- Prior to storing urinals and basins, please rinse them with a Clorox/water solution.
- Extra paper towels, toilet paper and hand soap are stored in the bathroom vanities and also in the cupboard above the toilet in the guest bathroom. Some may also be stored in the basement. Extra water/beverage is stored in the cupboard under the microwave. Extra light bulbs are on the top of the refrigerator and in the basement desk.
- Feel free to take recyclables home with you if you recycle.
- Consider bringing extra shoes or slippers to wear in the house during inclement weather.
- After a guest passes, please check the corner cupboard (where the television is located) for personal items.
“When Breath Becomes Air”, by Paul Kalanithi.
At the age of thirty six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation for a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally in to a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out in to a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in the profoundly moving memoir.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
The National Catholic Reporter recently published an article about the Samaritan House. Click here to read "Samaritan House is a 'spa for the dying", by Peter Feuerherd.
Over the last six months Samaritan house has been the recipient of generous donations from families whose loved ones were cared for by you, the volunteers. These funds help maintain the house and assist in payment of expenses on an ongoing basis.
Mark Your Calendars
A Note of Gratitude (from the daughter of a recent guest)
Every memory of Dad is accompanied by true thankfulness that he was able to spend his last days in the community he loved and that wonderful volunteers were able to help my Mom. I cannot express the peace of mind that you all have brought to my family. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, full of God’s blessings joy and peace.”
available to assist Linda with future schedules. Read a bit about Jen below.
Hello Volunteers, my name is Jen Stephens. Some of you may already
know me, but to those who do not, I would like to introduce myself. I live
in Wellsboro with my husband Jim and my two children Madeline & Charlie. Primarily I am a stay-at-home mom, but I also work part-time
at Cafe 1905 and I am the VP of the S&SMH Auxiliary.
I strongly believe in volunteerism and its benefit to our community. In
fact, a sense of community is impossible without volunteers. I am excited
to participate in the Samaritan House ministry and look forward to working with each of you. Warmest regards, Jen Stephens.
A Note from Linda
whom I have never met!
Here is a bit about my history with Samaritan House: I was present
at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that formally opened the doors to
our ministry in 1999, and among the first group of volunteers to
serve a guest at the house. I spent a number of those early years
as a volunteer, and then took leave for a time.
I returned in the summer of 2013, and shortly after, was invited to
fill the position of scheduler. It is a true honor and privilege to
work with each of you, as well as the guests and families at
Prayer Shawl Ministry
Air conditioning/heating units have been installed at the house, as well as a new toilet and vanity in guest bathroom. We were able to complete this work with funds from two grants, as well as a generous donation in memory of a former volunteer, Marie Coll.
We hope to welcome a guest sometime soon, and perhaps share the holidays with a family in need of comfort and care. As always, our sincere thanks to each one of you for the gifts you freely share with the Samaritan House.
Our best wishes to all for a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving.
An Excerpt for "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp:
"Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks. Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out the planks of trust. I can walk the planks - from known to unknown - and know: He holds.
Is that why the Israelite's kept recounting their past - to trust God to their future? Remembering is an act of thanksgiving, a way of thanksgiving, this turn of the heart over time's shoulder to see all the long way His arms have carried. Gratitude is not only the memories of our heart; gratitude is a memory of God's heart and to thank is to remember God.
This is the crux of Christianity: to remember and give thanks, eucharisteo.
Because remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust -- to really believe.”
Thank you, Lord, for food to share, for family times of faith and prayer.
Thank you, Lord, for all these things, and every joy Thanksgiving brings.