Hospice Celebration of Life fundraiser kicks off Monday in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Hospice Celebration of Life fundraiser kicks off Monday in Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

No Apparent Excuses by Jan Maret Willman will be up for auction at Monday's Hospice Celebration of Life fundraiser for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association Hospice and Palliative Care program. Willman is a hospice volunteer who headed an art show for the event featuring 23 pieces by 10 local artists.

— Jan Maret Willman remembers the relief and comfort she felt as volunteers from the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association Hospice and Palliative Care program helped make the final days of her grandfather-in-law's life comfortable and peaceful.

"It was such an amazing experience to be able to have (him) home and comfortable and to have the whole family there but to have that support," she said. "It seems like without us even asking, people were showing up when we needed them. He was comfortable and happy."

Willman, a local artist and hospice volunteer of more than five years, headed an effort this year to incorporate an art show and sale into the annual Hospice Celebration of Life fundraiser kicking off Monday night.

The event begins with a dinner, auction and art gallery starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

A fundraising golf tournament begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Catamount Ranch & Club.

Tickets for Monday's dinner are $60 per person and include a raffle ticket for a giveaway that includes three vacation getaways to Gateway, Hawaii and Tucson, Ariz.

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The art show will feature 10 artists and 23 pieces of work, ranging from contemporary oil and acrylic paintings to sculptures and printmaking. Some of the artists are hospice staff, and many have a connection to hospice. Artists like Gregory Block, Karen Schulman and Susan Oehme are showing work and donating proceeds from sales to the hospice program.

There also will be a live auction of a $3,500 bicycle tour certificate as well as two pieces of art: Rod Hanna's "Rainbow Ridge" photograph and a contemporary abstract work from Willman called "No Apparent Excuses."

Willman thinks there's an important connection between art and healing from grief.

Just two years ago, she lost her father and again saw the end of his life reached with dignity through a hospice program in Michigan.

As she painted the work "No Apparent Excuses" upon returning to Steamboat, it was her grief that compelled and inspired her.

"It was an incredible outlet for me to process my grief but also to change my grief into the joy my father would have wanted me to continue on with," she said.

The hospice program at the VNA encourages that process, especially among young children who have suffered a loss. Monday's dinner will feature centerpieces hand-painted by participants in the Youth Bereavement Program, and their contemplative photography also will be on display.

The VNA Hospice and Palliative Care program last year provided care to 69 terminally ill patients, according to VNA Director of Development Dervla Lacy. The program also provided bereavement counseling to more than 300 family members.

"The dinner portion (of the fundraiser) is really where we recognize those that have used the hospice services this year and recognize hospice staff and volunteers and celebrate that," Lacy said.

The VNA Hospice and Palliative Care program employs 18 staff members and several volunteers who provide at-home care in Routt and Moffat counties. In 2009, the Rollingstone Respite House opened, aiming to provide a comfortable inpatient setting for hospice patients.

Proceeds from the Celebration of Life fundraising events will go to support these programs.

"For those who have used hospice or have a connection to hospice, they know how special it is and how necessary," Lacy said. "What we aim to do with our Hospice and Palliative Care program is to make people comfortable, and that's extremely important not only to the hospice patient but to their families."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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