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Failure, Phys Ed and Faith – Finding Life Lessons with R.C. West

When Richard C. West earned five failing grades and one “A” his sophomore year in high school, his life was changed forever. His only “A” was in Physical Education. A coach took him under his wing and Richard became, in his own words, “a different person.” With renewed focus on academics, his grades improved and upon graduation he was accepted into college. His academic career would not be completed until he reached the age of 88.

West attended Springfield College in Massachusetts. An only child, Richard said his biggest adjustment was learning to live with a roommate. He played baseball and football for the college’s Pride football team. His second football season was interrupted and another major adjustment was on the horizon. Following the sixth game, Richard and his teammates received notices to report for military duty. World War Two was calling.

Richard was assigned to the Infantry Medical Corp and shipped out to France, and then Germany, where he spent two years. He then served a two-year stint in England and was about to be shipped to the Asian theatre when the atomic bomb ended the war.

Richard returned to college and earned a tryout with the St. Louis Browns baseball team, and was faced with a dilemma. The minor league team offered to take him on to become a coach/manager – but he would have to sacrifice his college degree. Richard opted to finish his degree.

After serving with the athletic department at Otterbein College for eight years, Richard took on a new challenge, moving to Kettering, Ohio for a teaching and coaching position. “It was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had,” he recalls. “I was assigned to teach American and World history. I had no background in either, so I spent the whole summer studying the subjects.” Richard would teach physical education and become a guidance counselor, “the greatest experience I ever had,” he says. It was also the link that led to the love of his lifetime.

Near the end of the school year, a knock came to his guidance office door. In walked a “beautiful lady in a summer dress, with a wide brimmed hat,” Richard recalls. “ She wanted to confer with the counselor about the enrollment of her son. In less than two years, Richard would marry Nancy. And when Richard retired from counseling after twenty years of counseling, the couple launched a new counseling service together. “The church needed pre-marital counselors, so my wife and I took on that challenge.”

Richard and his wife actually did retire and move to Florida for a time. They found themselves returning to Ohio regularly to watch grandchildren play spots, so they decided to return to Ohio. When he was diagnosed with abdominal lymphoma, Richard experienced an epiphany that sent him back to pursue a degree in theology. He earned his doctorate of divinity at the age of 88.

As Richard reviews his life, he says his opportunity to be a counselor was his “gift from God.” He shares his faith these days and urges Christians to live as children of God. Everyday, he observes, we have the opportunity to choose to do what is right. God, in his wisdom, choose wisely when he touched Richard’s life and invited him to counsel others.

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A Celebration of Life – In Memoriam, Betty Schmoll

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Wright Dunbar Inc. held its 14th annual Walk of Fame induction celebration Thursday Sept. 23. Four individuals and one organization were honored. The awards were given to Annae Barney Gorman, Daniel W. Mikesell, Dr. David Ponitz, Betty Schmoll and the Gem City Sweet Adelines. Betty Schmoll, the founder of Hospice of Dayton, is embraced after the ceremony.

The life of Hospice of Dayton founder Betty Schmoll will be celebrated with a memorial service at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.  Her legacy is the continuing mission of Hospice of Dayton and the tens of thousands of lives this hospice program has touched.

Betty graduated from nursing school at Wright State University in 1975. After caring for her terminally ill mother, Betty launched a personal crusade to improve end-of-life care in the Dayton community. Her passion to find a better way to serve the dying resulted in the founding of Hospice of Dayton in 1978.
Betty collaborated with every hospital in the region to develop hospice services and became the first president and CEO of Hospice of Dayton. Her leadership extended into the national hospice movement, where she served with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association to advance hospice care. When she was presented with the Founders Award by NHPCO, their tribute noted that “She is a shining example of how one determined person with a good idea can make an enormous impact on a community and nation.”

The public is invited to attend and help honor Betty and her contributions to the quality of life in the Dayton region at 10 am on July 16 at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. Wright State University has also announced a new nursing scholarship named for Betty Schmoll. The Betty Schmoll and Carol Dixon Endowed Scholarship for Leadership through Nursing is named in honor of Betty Schmoll, founder and first president of Hospice of Dayton, and Carol Dixon, Betty’s friend and colleague and the first vice president of Hospice of Dayton. These two prominent graduates of the College of Nursing and Health worked together for many years to establish Hospice of Dayton as a model in providing superior care and services to those with life-limiting illnesses. Both were strong leaders who also happened to be nurses.

The scholarship will to benefit an undergraduate and graduate student each year who show leadership potential. It is intended to encourage the recipients to use their leadership skills and nursing vocation to make a difference in the lives of others.

If you’d like to make a gift to this endowed scholarship fund, you can give at www.wright.edu/give/schmolldixon or send your check to The Wright State University Foundation, care of The Betty Schmoll and Carol Dixon Endowed Scholarship, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway, Dayton, OH 45345.

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Celebrating Life Stories: Betsy Stavnitski

Anyone who asks Betsy Stavnitski if she “used to be a nurse” will receive a quick response. “I am a nurse,” Betsy says proudly. Retired or not, Betsy will always be a perfect example of what a nurse should be.

Betsy graduated from nursing school in 1958 and immediately earned a role as an instructor for nursing students. When she became pregnant with her first child, she was dismissed from the job and informed “a pregnant nurse is not an acceptable instructor for students.” She shares the story wryly today, adding “Can you imagine? But that’s the way things were done then.”

Like many women of the era, Betsy did not return to nursing until her three children had grown. When her youngest son was a junior in high school, she completed a refresher course at Miami Valley Hospital. “It was wonderful,” she remembers. “I learned so much!” She joined the Miami Valley staff in orthopedics, transitioned to infection control and ended up managing the orthopedic team. For the next thirty years she gave her loyalty and love to “the Valley.” This year, Miami Valley and Premier Health returned her affection with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her career in nursing.   Her award notes that “Betsy strived to keep the patient and family 1st by leading compassionate and safe care….Many of us marvel at Betsy’s professionalism, spirit and direct communication skills. Betsy served with dignity, class and the utmost respect for the patient and the care team.” After retirement Betsy served as a volunteer, as a member of the Miami Valley Foundation Board and on other committees, extending her loyalty and contributions beyond the end of her nursing role.

Betsy is humble about her recent Premier honors, noting that her “colleagues on the floor work so hard, mentally, physically and emotionally.” Asked what has changed the most over the course of her nursing career, Betsy says “Technology. The art of nursing has not changed, but the science has.”

 

As any of her colleagues can tell you, when it comes to the art of nursing, Betsy is one of the Miami Valley’s finest artists.

Simple Ways to Celebrate Life

Our mission is to celebrate and honor the lives of those we serve at end of life. On this day, we remind everyone to Celebrate Life.

It is easy to define our days by the worries, fears and problems that can consume our time and energy. Instead, we encourage everyone to make this day a focus on the joy and beauty we experience but often overlook. By Celebrating Life today, we can take the first step in a commitment to concentrate more everyday on the goodness, the grace and the gratifying opportunities we have that make life worth living. Celebrate Life today – and everyday.

Here are a few ideas for ways to make this day special.
Learn something new
-Start a new book
-Learn to cook or bake a new dish
-Sign up for a free class
-Try yoga, tai chi or meditation
-Start a journal or blog

Remember
-Play a game from your childhood
-Look at old photographs
-Reminisce with an old friend
-Enjoy music from your youth

Move
-Dance
-Run
-Walk
-Ride a bike
-Play Frisbee

Express Appreciation
-Thank someone
-Send a friend a note or give them a gift
-List your blessings
-Make a donation of time or money to a worthwhile charity

Touch Nature
-Look into the face of a baby or older person
-Pet a dog or cat
-Go out for a walk in the rain or snow
-Go to an arboretum or a botanical garden
-Hunt for bird nests
-Look at the stars
-Plant a flower
-Watch the sunset
-Watch the sunrise

Connect or Reconnect
-Send a letter or email to your favorite teacher or mentor
-Make a call, send an email or video chat with an old friend
-Introduce yourself to someone you’d like to get to know

Female Vet Enjoys Honor Flight

by Sharon Metcalf, MSW, LSW, Manager of Social Workers

EllaI was blessed to act as Guardian for one of our Hospice of Dayton patients, Ella Simpkins, on a Dayton Honor Flight. The Honor Flight’s mission is to take Veterans of WWII, the Korean and Vietnam wars to Washington, D.C. ,for a chance to see our National Memorials. This was a long one day trip beginning at 3:30 a.m. and ending at midnight with an emotional “welcome home” at the Dayton Airport.

Ella was one of five women among the 95 Veterans on this trip. Ella was a WAC during the Berlin Crisis. She entered the military at 17 (with her parents’ permission) and served with special clearance in communications, traveling to Germany just prior to the Vietnam War. Ella’s duties contributed to the exemplary heritage of women in military service.

The Dayton Honor Flight’s entourage of three tour buses had a police escort throughout our time in Washington. Ella was especially impressed by the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Wall and Korean Memorial. Ella and our Dayton Honor Flight Veterans had a front row seat to the Changing of the Guard at Arlington. A group photo was taken at the Air Force Memorial. Ella and I talked about Forrest Gump and other movies she liked, as Ella sat in her wheelchair overlooking the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool.

From our arrival in Washington to our homecoming reception in Dayton, I was brought to tears by the outpouring of appreciation by civilians and by the level of professional respect demonstrated by our military personnel. I was told that the large groups of service men and women who welcomed us home as we stepped off the plane came to Dayton Airport two hours early to ensure they could meet us at the gate. I was unprepared for the Color Guard, countless military personnel and hundreds of civilians waiting in the Dayton Airport Terminal to say “Thank you” to our Veterans.

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My Wonderful Life

By Paul M. Minter

In 1937 I was ten years old, Mother and Father decided they would separate and by doing so they would leave me with my Great-Grandmother who lived in the hills of Kentucky.  Moving from the city to the hills of Kentucky was like being in a time capsule, traveling back to the frontier days.

My Great-Grandmother’s old farmhouse had no water, electric or plumbing.  Her farm was located as far back in the hills as you could possibly go, at the head of a hollow with 10-foot cliffs surrounding the entire valley.  The farm had 80 acres of steep hillside land with about 10 acres of bottomland.  The creek that flowed through this valley was a gift from God and gave us many hours of catching fish that my Great-Grandmother, Molly Harvey, would cook for me. My Great-Grandfather, Isaac Harvey, built the old farmhouse.  It had six rooms with three open fireplaces and an old wood cook stove in the kitchen.  The house had three large porches.  In the winter we spent most of our time in the bedroom because it was the only room heated by an open fireplace.  Sleeping in the bedroom was like sleeping in an indoor jungle.  My Great-Grandmother had many beautiful flowers hanging in this bedroom so they wouldn’t freeze.  She also was an herbalist who spent most of her life collecting and growing herbs.  She had remedies for most all sickness.  Doctoring yourself was common practice and she knew the proper home remedy to give you.

My Great-Grandmother cooked, dressed and lived like she was living in the early 1800s.  She always wore the long dress and a colorful bonnet.  A sidesaddle and a horse were her only way of traveling.

I was fascinated with the primitive way of life, and soon learned how to ride a horse, milk a cow by hand and plow the fields with a team of mules.  My Great-Grandmother’s requirement was that everybody had to work, regardless of age.  Working in the garden, cutting firewood, gathering eggs, feeding the livestock and chickens was a daily requirement.

The school I attended was a one-room school with 8 grades and a potbelly stove in the middle of the room. There was no such thing as a school bus.  When you graduated from the 8th grade you had to travel many miles to go to a high school.  A big percentage of the young people could not go because of the long trip.  I was lucky, as I was able to enroll in Berea College where you worked and lived on campus.  They required you to work four hours a day to pay for your way through school.  I was assigned to work in the paint shop.  In 1944, at the age of 17, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and when the war was over I received an honorable discharge. I was lucky to get employment at the General Motor plant in Dayton, Ohio. After 30 years of dedicated service I retired at the age of 50 and launched an exciting new career. I decided to take ballroom dancing lessons.

I always loved to watch other people dance and was always taken by music. After competing in three dance competitions and receiving a trophy for each one I started a new life as a fulltime professional dance instructor. I met Sharon when we were both taking dancing lessons in 1967.   A wonderful romance followed and we fell in love and were married in 1970.   I organized an independent dance club and for the next 33-years I was a successful ballroom dance instructor.  I received awards from numerous YMCA’s locally where I helped promote and achieve dance class success, including the Kettering, Xenia, Northwest, New Carlisle, Oakwood and Eaton YMCAs. We offered classes for the adult night school programs at Fairborn and Kettering High Schools and Dayton classes at South Elementary School.  We offered classes for the Kettering Recreation Center at Polen Barn, the Rose Art Center and Kettering Rec Center.  Without my wife, Sharon, I would not have been such a great success.  She helped me and encouraged me to practice and develop new ideas so our students would always be excited and want to learn more about dancing.

 

 

 

 

A Healing Partnership

BindiBy: Vickie Kapnas,
Hospice of Dayton Volunteer

She enters a room quietly, gently, feeling no need to announce her presence. While she takes her new job very seriously, she seems happily unaware of the level of comfort and encouragement she brings just by being there.

Her name is Bindi and she’s a new pet therapy dog for Hospice of Dayton. A mix of Black Lab and Border Collie, Bindi’s journey to this new calling is one that she shares with her owner, Lori Sturgill.

Last November, Sturgill’s mother, Jean Shock, was admitted to Hospice of Dayton after a lengthy illness. For the next week and a half, Sturgill stayed at Hospice of Dayton and rarely left her mother’s side. Neither did Bindi. Through those difficult days, Bindi’s steadfast presence bolstered Sturgill’s sprits and helped her cope.

“I really appreciated the fact that I could bring Bindi,” Sturgill said. “The nurses made her a bed and it became home. It was such a comfort to have her there. Bindi loved it so much. We would walk the halls and everybody would spoil her rotten.”

Bindi became a friendly fixture at Hospice of Dayton, enjoying perks such as free cafeteria food and plenty of attention. It wasn’t long before nurses asked if Bindi could visit other patients. One gentleman in particular stood out for Sturgill.

“He would say-oh I just miss my pets so much. I guess maybe it made him feel like he had a piece of home-to have an animal come and just sit with him. It’s just amazing,” said Sturgill.

About four days into their stay, Sturgill’s husband offered to take Bindi home for a break. When Lee Sturgill put on his coat to leave, Bindi, who had been lying calmly in the corner, would have none of it.

“She ran to my mother’s bed, jumped up and put her feet on the bed and would not leave,” Sturgill explained. “I couldn’t believe it”

A second attempt to take Bindi home the next day produced similar results.

“This time, instead of putting her feet on the bed, she jumped all the way in the bed and wouldn’t leave…it’s like she knew she had to be there,” Sturgill remembered.

Though it was a difficult time, Sturgill is very grateful for the comfort and support that Hospice of Dayton provided to her mother, to Sturgill’s father, Richard Shock, and to the entire family.

“I would go to sleep every night with my mother under a blanket of stars,” said Sturgill. “I will never forget that. The whole experience at Hospice gave me so much. I feel like I could volunteer the rest of my life and not give back the comfort that they gave my mother.”

Sturgill and Bindi remained at Hospice of Dayton until Jean Shock passed away on November 22, 2013. According to Sturgill, Bindi instinctively understood what had happened.

“When Mom passed, Bindi knew,” Sturgill explained. “We packed up our stuff and she pranced out with a pep in her step…After that, I knew that I had to do therapy with her.”

Sturgill completed the Hospice of Dayton volunteer orientation and enrolled Bindi in training classes to become a therapy dog. Training involved taking Bindi to public places and observing how the dog reacted to distractions and to new people. The combination of Bindi’s gentle nature and Sturgill’s compassion for patients and families has proven to be a successful one. The pair began work as a Hospice of Dayton pet therapy team on Feb. 3. In addition to Hospice of Dayton, Sturgill and Bindi also volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital.

According to Sturgill, Bindi’s a natural. Bindi seems to understand intuitively how to negotiate each unique situation as she draws close to patients and provides comfort.

“It’s just an instinct,” Sturgill said. “Ever since she was at Hospice she knows what sick people are like…she’s gentle.”

Sturgill is especially passionate about the benefits of pet therapy.

“The nurses tell me that the patient’s blood pressure goes down and it calms them,” Sturgill explained. Nurses also told Sturgill about a patient who benefitted greatly from pet therapy during his last days. The man had not communicated at all during his Hospice of Dayton stay. That changed when a therapy dog came into the room.

“The family placed the man’s hand on the dog and the man opened his eyes and began petting the dog and started to talk,” said Sturgill. “The family was able to have a conversation with their father before he passed. That is priceless.”

While Sturgill still grieves, she knows that she is making steady progress. Sturgill was particularly touched by a letter that Jean Shock left behind for her children that read in part: Kids, I don’t want you to feel bad when I’m gone. Be happy for me…Celebrate with me…enjoy your life and remember I’m at peace now. It’s okay to think about me once in a while, but don’t grieve. I’ll see you again in the future.

Sturgill said that reading this letter brought such a release of grief. “I was so blessed to have a mother who thought about those things.”

Working with Bindi as a pet therapy team has also helped with the healing process. Sturgill acquaints the experience to how she imagines an organ donor might feel.

“You have this loss yet you give back,” Sturgill explained. “I’ve lost my mother but through that I’ve been able to find a passion. This is something that I love doing…When I visit a patient and they smile and react to Bindi, it’s absolutely healing.”

Gone Fishing

By Laura Colliflower, OTR/L 

I was fortunate to meet Jack during his first stay at the Dayton Hospice House. Jack talked about being down because he had given up fishing. It took too much energy to go out, walk down to the creek and stand there the whole time. I met Jack on a Monday, the week the first fishing group of the season was scheduled at Hospice of Dayton. I explained to Jack that there was a fishing group planned for Friday morning, that the paths were paved out by the pond and we could get him out to the pond by wheelchair, if he was too fatigued to walk that distance. Jack was encouraged to invite family. That entire week every time I passed Jack’s room or talked to a staff member working with him, they said Jack was looking forward to the group on Friday.

When Friday came–Jack’s grandson Taylor came. He and Taylor put on their lucky fishing hat and vest and had the fishing rod and tackle box in tow. Jack went out to the pond in a wheelchair to save his energy and then once there he stood on the banks beside his grandson where he was proud to announce that he caught the first fish of the day. Jack and his grandson were invited to come back and fish whenever he desired after his return home. Jack transferred home later that day but returned one month later to the Dayton Hospice House. This time he returned for end of life care. His family brought the picture of he and Taylor and placed it on the nightstand by his bed. His Social Worker from home care came to visit him just a couple of days before he died. He opened his eyes and said with a smile on his face, “Holly, is it warm enough to drop a line?” For our patients in the course of their disease process, their lives can become solely focused around the ability to perform basic self care and they lose ability to engage in tasks that support quality of life. In a sense our patient’s can begin to feel like they are losing who they are.

As Hospice of Dayton Occupational Therapists, our focus is to assist in improving or maintaining a person’s ability to safely engage in activities that are meaningful in their life. These tasks can include; dressing, bathing, preparing meals, mobility, and also leisure activities.

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Hospice Patient’s Final Wish Becomes a Reality

whodeyAs a local hospice patient’s health was declining, the only way the family could test for his alertness or mental status was by talking about the Bengals. As a “Final Wish”, the patient asked Hospice of Dayton if they could possibly meet a player or coach from the Cincinnati Bengals. The patient’s health was declining at a rapid rate and given about 1-2 days to live. The window of opportunity was quickly closing.

With football season in full swing, the schedules of the coaches and players are at maximum capacity. Thanks to some angels at the Marvin Lewis Foundation, Hospice of Dayton was able to make this patient’s final wish come true. A special phone call was set up to brighten this patient’s day.

The patient’s family surrounded him with all of his Bengals gear.  The phone rang and the caller ID read “PAUL BROWN STADIUM”. On the line was no other than Marvin Lewis, the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. Marvin was gentle and compassionate and thanked the patient for his support. The patient was very lethargic but was able to say, “Hello, Marvin Lewis”. The family said this was the best thing that could have happened for their father.  A special thanks to all involved for making this patient’s wish a reality.

 

 

Dream Big Dreams

The best life is to live your dreams when you‘re awake. That is the credo of Terrence Glover, who should know. He’s made so many of his dreams come true.

Born in Dayton, Terrence remembers the first time he embraced life as a great adventure. “I got my first bike when I was 10, and my world was no longer bound by the corner stop sign,” he says. “ I was free!” He launched his life of big dreams. Terrence became the captain of his Little League team, and when he got to high school, he joined the wrestling team. “I set new wrestling records,” he says, smiling. “Unfortunately, it was for getting pinned the most times in a row.” But the activity resulted in a job recommendation from his coach that led to his life-long career in the culinary arts.

His first job was at the Dayton Racquet Club, the finest club in the city. He became an apprentice, earning the title of sous chef at age 19. He created his own signature dish and supervised kitchens in Texas and St. Louis as head chef. When his mother became ill with cancer, Terrence returned to Dayton to care for her and began another life adventure as a husband and father. Considering his bucket list as he grew older, he went to Los Angeles and worked at the ESPN Center with premier world chef Wolfgang Puck.

The two most important things in life are to “never, never, never stop dreaming,” says Terrence. “And to help others hold onto their dreams.”