The Danvers Garden Club volunteers at the Kaplan Family Hospice House: back row, L to R: Club President Lori Estes, Vice President Ann Farley, Marguerite Parkman, Kathe Hyland, Anne Sweeney, Judy Drouin, Lauren Yeannakopoulos. Front row: Mary Giangregorio, standing left; Patty Chisholm, Joni Pesola and Evie Fraser seated on bench; and Nancy Sweeter, standing right.
At Care Dimensions, we’re very grateful for the Danvers Garden Club volunteers and their talent in creating and maintaining the Kaplan Family Hospice House centerpiece: its Garden of Remembrance. In 2005 the club designed the plant selection and garden’s footprint, which it continues to enhance with new flowers every season. The club also takes care of the seasonal design, planting, and maintenance of the decorative urns at the building’s entrance and on patients’ patios. It’s a lot of work, yet members continue to bring their enthusiasm, dedication and sunny smiles to make the house grounds beautiful for patients and their families, volunteers, and the Care Dimensions staff to enjoy.
Danvers Garden Club connections to the house are as inspiring as they are moving. Below are just a few:
I was the Danvers Garden Club president 2004-2005 and have worked on the Remembrance Garden at the Kaplan Family Hospice House since the time it was established. I also created arrangements for the urns for several years. My husband Stu passed away in 2016 and was only at the Kaplan House for 24 hours. Those who came by to visit him remarked how pleasant it was to sit on the patio and see the beautiful arrangements in the urns and enjoy the birds. I thank the Danvers Garden Club for making these arrangements for the four seasons. I often go down to the Kaplan House just to sit by the Remembrance Garden and meditate and think of Stu.
As a member of the Danvers Garden Club since 1998, I was fortunate to work alongside Evie Fraser, our then-president in 2005-2006, as she designed and planted the original garden at Kaplan Family Hospice House. It was a most rewarding experience knowing the garden and the urns outside individual rooms would provide many peaceful and enjoyable moments of reflection for patients and their families. Little did I know at the time, but I would be bringing my Mom and several close friends for their loving care by Care Dimensions hospice staff. Helping to maintain and refurbish the hospice garden and seasonal urns over the years has been both a privilege and a personal blessing.
My Danvers Garden Club volunteer time at Kaplan goes back many years when we were first given the opportunity to water the urns on the patios. It felt like such a privilege. It was very quiet and I did my best to move silently from urn to urn and not disturb any family or patient who was sitting outside. Many times, family members have asked me for plant advice or help identifying the perennials and annuals. I am struck by how peaceful and perfect it is. I’ve known many people, too many people, who have been cared for at Kaplan in the last three years, one a great friend from the club. I told my friend that this would be the place for me when it comes time. We are so fortunate to have this hospice house in Danvers.
In 2015, the Kaplan Family Hospice House was my husband’s residence for the last 10 days of his life. To me, it became home. I was able to be a full-time wife rather than a caretaker, thanks to the caring and professional staff. We decorated his room with his favorite sports memorabilia. We played a video of family events. We welcomed family, friends, colleagues, and many of his former students. The Kaplan House provided us with so many spaces for us to comfortably gather in our grief. We were able to console each other in his room, on the couches in the common area, and at the tables in the kitchen area. The reception desk volunteers were so welcoming to our visitors and escorted many to John’s room. On a warm November day, we even wheeled John’s bed out onto the patio to enjoy nature at its best.
About four years after John’s passing, a friend and I took a class to become Care Dimension volunteers. Once trained, we joined the rotation of reception desk volunteers. The pandemic changed the scope of our duties, but the role of a welcoming face at the Kaplan House has remained constant, even if it is covered by a mask.
In 2020, a Care Dimension volunteer offered to be my Danvers Garden Club sponsor so I could become a member. When we were asked to volunteer to take care of various gardens in Danvers, it made sense for me to care for the urns outside of patients’ rooms at the Kaplan House. It’s one more way for me to give back to the Kaplan House after the warm and generous way they looked after my husband.
The Care Dimensions – Danvers Garden Club connection has a long history. Many DGC members have been active participants in floral and plant installations, watering and taking part in fundraising events. Still doing what it does best, Care Dimensions will be serving many future generations far into the future. Wherever Care Dimensions will be needed, it will be there – and so will the Danvers Garden Club.
Nancy Sweeter, left, tends to an urn on one of the many patios at the Kaplan House.
We appreciate the constancy of every Danvers Garden Club volunteer. As we at Care Dimensions are fond of saying, volunteers are at the heart of what we do and make hospice care unique in health care. Go to CareDimensions.org/volunteers to find out what it means to be a Care Dimensions volunteer and apply online. The next volunteer training starts in early 2022.
About the author
Robin Ellington is a Care Dimensions Marketing Specialist.