Annual hospice luncheon in Albert Lea this week

Published 9:22 pm Monday, September 18, 2017

Volunteers with the hospice program at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin will host their 17th annual luncheon fundraiser this week to raise money to benefit patients and families utilizing the service.

The sloppy joe and salad luncheon will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.

Organizers Kathy Vokoun and Lilah Aas said they hope the event will raise awareness of the program.

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Hospice is a comprehensive approach of care for patients in their final phase of life and their families. It strives to meet their physical, spiritual and psychosocial needs at that time.

There are about 40 patients in Albert Lea at any given time utilizing the service, and volunteers are utilized to provide companionship, emotional support and respite for families, said Jackie Carstens, social worker and volunteer hospice coordinator. Volunteers may also provide transportation, run errands, provide office support, offer bereavement and assist with fundraising or promotional activities.

“Hospice is such rewarding work,” Aas said. “We get so much more than we give.”

Vokoun recalled a man she volunteered with who didn’t have a lot of family. She said she helped him plan his funeral and write his obituary, which gave the man peace of mind before his death.

“We become very good listeners,” she said.

Vokoun said as a volunteer with the program she is honored to be invited into people’s homes and their lives.

Hospice also provides services for family members after a loved one’s death in the program, has a memorial services twice a year and offers a six-week bereavement course.

A training for volunteers is slated for October, and people interested in volunteering can get involved any time of year.

Vokoun and Aas said as they look forward to the luncheon this year they are thankful for the businesses that have supported the event for many years and will again be contributing through donations of food.

People with questions about the event can call 507-377-6393.

If you go

What: Hospice sloppy joe and salad luncheon

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday

Where: First Lutheran Church, 301 W. Clark St., Albert Lea

Tickets: $7 per person

More info.: Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Hospice office at 1705 S.E. Broadway, or at the door the day of the event.