Jeanne Van Copenolle is no stranger to the devastating effects cancer takes on a person’s body and their family. She’s also no stranger to grief. Just after losing her brother to lung cancer, Jeanne’s husband, Joe, was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer. That was four years ago.
In November of last year, Joe’s condition worsened and Lourdes Hospice was called in to help bring comfort to him and to his family during his final months.
When living in the middle of something like this, you always wonder when it’s going to happen,” said Jeanne. “You get so tired. “
Hospice provided immediate care to Joe and comforting counsel to Jeanne, helping her to prepare for the end of Joe’s life.
“The very afternoon we decided to call Hospice, they had someone there at the house,” said Jeanne.
Jeanne developed a strong relationship with the nurses who attended to the family and found endless support through the Lourdes Hospice staff. On March 16, Joe lost his battle to cancer.
Stories like these are all too familiar in Western Kentucky. With limited healthcare resources, it’s not easy for programs such as those provided by Lourdes Hospice to expand their services.
But thanks to support from an organization called Impact Lourdes, more healthcare services offered in the region will receive funding for future projects and advancements.
The group began just two years ago as a grass roots healthcare initiative. Lourdes Foundation Board member, Loree Eckstein, and Vice President/Chief Philanthropy Officer, Tara Miller, teamed up to create a charitable organization that brings together women from various walks of life, all of whom want to ensure that high quality healthcare services continue to be available in Western Kentucky.
Group members each donate $1,000 over the course of the year—that averages out to about $83 each month. At the end of the year, the women are presented with several projects and services that Lourdes would like to make realities. The women then select a project in which they would like their pooled funds to be donated in the form of a grant of at least $50,000.
The group is now in its third year and has grown to 54 members. The more women who participate in the program, the more money is available for the grant. To make membership more accessible to a greater number of women, Impact Lourdes recently added a $500 per year junior membership for women under the age of 40.
“The women in this group have reached a point in their lives where they want a simple way to make a difference. They can do that through their charitable contributions and by inviting other women to participate, ” said Tara.
In the last two years, Impact Lourdes has granted over $100,000. In 2011, Lourdes Hospice received a $55,000 grant that allowed the program to expand their services by adding two nurses to coordinate Continuous Care and 11th Hour programs. Last November, the group donated $51,000 to renovations of patient rooms on the obstetrics floor of the hospital.
The women who make up the membership of the organization have joined for a variety of reasons. They don’t all know each other and don’t always share the same life experiences. But what unites the women in this group is their desire to ignite positive change in their community. They gather together to promote the idea that healthcare is worthy of community support.
“Being involved with Impact Lourdes has been very rewarding,” said Loree. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of women who have the same desire to make an impact on our community’s healthcare.”
“We offer advanced healthcare that now competes with options available in larger cities, such as Nashville and St. Louis,” said Tara. “We are committed to making those resources available to people right here in Paducah. That can only happen through philanthropy.”
For more information on the program or to become a member of Impact Lourdes, contact Tara Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270.444.2353.