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Reflection, celebration part of Hospice anniversary event

Nov. 16, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- In 1982, 53-year-old Laura Darby was finally fulfilling her dream of becoming a nurse while attending school at Marshall University when she came to understand a specific need in the Huntington community.

That understanding turned into action by Darby and a group of volunteers which has evolved in three decades to become Hospice of Huntington, an organization operating on a $12 million dollar budget covering 150 employees who have cared for about 15,000 patients since that initial effort.

More than 200 people turned out to celebrate that effort Thursday night during Hospice of Huntington's 30th Anniversary Dinner Celebration in the Don Morris Room on Marshall's campus.

The event was a long time in the making for Charlene Farrell, president and CEO of Hospice of Huntington for the last 29 years.

"We were working in an area that was off limits at the time, and now Hospice is part of the fabric of the health care system," Farrell said. "It went from a group of dedicated volunteers to a professional staff being able to provide a level of support for families in need that was not available in the past."

The event was a launching point for an endowment fund for the agency to ensure end-of-life care for future generations, Farrell said.

The event also commemorated Hospice's service to the community while honoring Darby with a look back over the organization's history. There were special appearances by key contributors and video tributes and testimonials from families who have benefited from the agency's services throughout its history.

There also was a brief reception prior to the celebration for members of the Dame Cicely Saunders Society, which includes supporters who have donated $25,000 or more to Hospice of Huntington.

Basically, in celebrating its history, Hospice of Huntington wanted to say, "Thanks," said Karen Dickson, director of planned giving and major gifts for the agency.

"The people who have supported us have supported not us as people, but they have supported a vision to provide quality physical care for people facing critical illnesses," Dickson said. "I believe that people who give to Hospice do so because it is something that is special in their hearts, and we are paying tribute to that tonight."

For more information about Hospice of Huntington, visit www.hospiceofhuntington.org.

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