Say the word hero and what comes to mind?
Soldiers risking their lives to protect us.
Police officers, firefighters and other first responders rushing headlong into danger as the rest of us are fleeing it.
Yet these public servants don’t consider themselves heroic at all — they humbly accept daily peril as “just part of the job.” Most are never recognized for their bravery and selfless service.
We want to change that. This month, Hospice of the Valley is proud to launch a new program called Honoring First Responders to pay tribute to our patients who once served as emergency, medical or law enforcement officers. The idea came from one of our volunteers — retired police officer and military vet Rodney Dehmer.
Like military veterans, first responders may experience traumatic memories and flashbacks at end-of-life. Many don’t want to burden family members with those feelings — so they need a safe place to share what’s heavy on their hearts.
Rodney feels privileged to support them. “They never asked for recognition or reward, but just wanted to help those who at some point in time, could not help themselves. Let’s thank them on their final journey, by touching their heart, with our own.”
Honoring first responders is modeled after a program we started six years ago called Saluting Our Veterans.
To date, 2,100 veteran patients from all branches of service have been honored. In homes across the Valley, a Hospice of the Valley volunteer who is also a veteran presents a special pin to the veteran patient and gives a ceremonial flag to family members. It’s a simple but deeply meaningful gesture of gratitude for their courage and sacrifice.
Perhaps the most special moment comes after the pinning, when both veterans spend some time together alone. That quiet opportunity to share feelings — both good and bad — is a balm for the soul. No one understands wartime regret and anguish better than another veteran.
And now that peace and comfort will be shared with first responders in our community. What an honor for us to share in the recognition of so many of our own hometown heroes!
October Hospice of the Valley calendar
Grief support for adults: No-cost grief support offered by Hospice of the Valley available at locations Valleywide. www.hov.org/our-care/grief-support/grief-support-groups/ or 602-530-6970.
Grief support for children and families: New Song Center for Grieving Children and Families offers grief support groups Valleywide to help children, youth and young adults through the death of a loved one. “Enduring Ties” serves families whose child has died. “Luz del Corazon” is a group for Spanish-speakers. Call 480-951-8985 for information and registration. No cost.
Mindfulness classes: Half-hour mindfulness sittings are offered weekly at no cost by Hospice of the Valley at two locations. Noon-12:30 p.m., Tuesdays, administrative office, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix. Noon-12:30 p.m., Thursdays, Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave.
Volunteer opportunities: Visit patients in their homes and give family caregivers a break, help with administrative duties, work at our thrift stores or do sewing projects. Advance application is required: hov.org/volunteer-opportunities. Information: 602-636-6336.
Off the Vine charity event: Fine wine, delectable food prepared by local celebrity chefs and entertainment featured at Hospice of the Valley’s Off the Vine Vintage Wine Auction at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at Mountain Shadows, 5445 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley. hov.org/wine or 602-530-6692. Help us raise charity care funds to care for our community, including support for a new program: Honoring First Responders.
New Song Center charity event: Heaven Art Gallery and Healing Art Curator invite Valley residents to “Love & Life” for a night of art and community from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at the gallery, 7113 E. Main St., Scottsdale. Fifty-five percent of the proceeds from art sales and a silent auction will go to support Hospice of the Valley’s New Song Center for Grieving Children, a not-for-profit that offers grief support at no cost to children and families.
Duet and BAI calendar
Duet is a non-profit, interfaith organization that matches homebound adults with volunteers to help them with daily living. BAI is a leading resource for Alzheimer’s disease prevention and care.
Family Caregiver Symposium: Navigating difficult family caregiver transitions. Register now for Nov. 2 event at Church of the Beatitudes, 555 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix. 602-274-5022 or www.duetaz.org
Duet support groups: For family caregivers caring for loved ones with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Locations and times vary. English and Spanish.
Contact Daniela Saylor to RSVP via email at [email protected] or call 602-274-5022. duetaz.org.
Grandparents Raising Grandkids Support Groups: For times and locations, call 602-274-5022, Ext 31.
Volunteer: 90 adults who need grocery shopping help, rides to medical appointments, minor home repairs and even friendly visits are on a waiting list. RSVP to [email protected]?z.org or call 602-274-5022.
BAI caregiver classes and support groups: Help for family members, friends or caregivers after a diagnosis of dementia is made and the disease progresses. Locations and times vary. www.banneralz.org/education-events/caregiver-classes.aspx; www.banneralz.org/education-events/support-groups.aspx.
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