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January 13, 2015

Woodworker crafts comfort for hospice patients, families
Marblehead Reporter
By Sarah Nicholson


The whirring of a scroll saw echoes out through an intricate and organized woodworking shop deep in the basement of a Marblehead home. The sweet smell of freshly carved wood fills the air as Al Hosman finishes his most recent project, an elaborate cross, made for the patients that are cared for at the Kaplan Family Hospice House, the inpatient hospice facility operated by Care Dimensions in Danvers.

Hosman began volunteering with Care Dimensions seven years ago after his first wife died while on service with Care Dimensions.

“I wanted to give back to the people that helped my wife transition from this life so peacefully,” he said. “I wanted to help other patients and families when they needed it most.”

In addition to creating these beautiful wooden crafts, Hosman also volunteers as a receptionist for the Kaplan Family Hospice House and in making bereavement calls to families that have lost someone.

Creating beautiful crosses and Stars of David has come naturally to Hosman and is an extension of his exceptional woodworking skills. As a young man, Hosman studied construction at Wentworth Institute of Technology and then worked as a carpenter and a woodcrafter at Minuteman National Park in Concord, Mass. However, he said his proudest achievement was working at Andover Organ Company in Lawrence as an organ builder.

“When I saw the knitted prayer squares at the Kaplan House, I got the idea to make the crosses and Stars of David for the patients staying there to comfort them and give their families a lasting memento of their loved one,” Hosman said.

Hosman’s process to make these pieces of art is extensive. He starts by selecting a piece of wood — either mahogany, maple or walnut — and then places a pattern over the wood. Then, using a scroll saw that once belonged to his father, Hosman begins a process that can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the intricacy of the carving. The finished pieces are sanded down and brought to the Kaplan House to give to the patients and their families as a symbol of faith to keep by their bedsides.

“I hope that at the end of the day, when a patient or a family member is tired and feeling down, they look over to one of my carvings and feel uplifted,” Hosman said.

Now, thanks to Hosman’s tireless volunteer work, they have something to bring them comfort at the Kaplan Family Hospice House.

Sarah Nicholson is a Salem State marketing intern at Care Dimensions.


Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.