Ginger and Malcolm Combs were high school sweethearts in High Point. According to the Combs family, Ginger saw Malcolm bagging groceries after school one day, and the rest is history. The couple raised two children and enjoyed traveling and spending time with their seven grandchildren. They retired to Lancaster County, South Carolina to be close to family.
A team from Hospice & Palliative Care Palmetto Region (part of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region) was called in to help the family when cancer struck Ginger, who had been Malcolm's caregiver as he faced a chronic illness himself. The team provided medical care, helped with family needs, and a chaplain provided spiritual support and grief counseling.
Ginger and Malcolm stayed as close in their passing as they were during their 50 years of marriage. They both passed away on March 18, 2018.
"Losing both parents on the same day is something you can never plan for, but having the support of the Hospice team helped us get through it," says their son Tim Combs. "From the moment the Hospice team entered our world, we couldn't imagine getting through that time without them."
Serving the Whole Family
Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region (HPCCR) has been serving families like the Combs for 40 years. The not-for-profit organization's mission is to relieve suffering and improve the quality and dignity of life through compassionate hospice care for those at the end of life, palliative care for those with advanced illness, and through community education. HPCCR also provides grief support to families and walks loved ones through the administrative forms and decisions around end-of-life care.
Serving Young Survivors
When a loved one passes, the youngest survivors often need the most support. That's why HPCCR offers Chameleon's Journey, an overnight camp offered at no cost to children coping with the death of a family member or other significant person in their lives. Chameleon's Journey will be held at Camp Thunderbird in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, October 12-13, 2019.
CJ first came to Chameleon's Journey at age 11 after losing his father. He continued as a camper until he was able to become a counselor at age 18. "The most rewarding part about being a counselor is seeing young children in the same situation I was in when I was younger, coping with grief, and I'm able to help them cope with grief," says CJ.
Serving Those Who Served
One out of every four individuals who die in the U.S. is a veteran. HPCCR addresses the unique end-of-life needs of veterans through the "We Honor Veterans" program. Staff members receive ongoing training, and some veteran patients are matched with volunteers who are veterans themselves. Every veteran served by HPCCR receives a commemorative pin as a token of gratitude for their service.
Medical Social Worker Mark Byrd has seen veterans brought to tears by the simple act of receiving this acknowledgement of their service. "It's a very moving experience for all of us," says Mark, a veteran himself.
Served by the Community
As a not-for-profit organization, HPCCR relies on volunteers, fundraising events and individual donations to provide patient-centered care. The #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign of 2018 brought in $19,180—enough to provide 100 days of care, send 40 children to Chameleon's Journey camp, or give specialized care to 137 veterans.
But the campaign is about more than a dollar amount. "We look at Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to raise not just dollars but also awareness," says HPCCR Director of Corporate Relations Sherry Gillespie.
How You Can Serve
HPCCR is always looking for volunteers, and you don't need a healthcare background to make a difference. You can help at a special event, provide office assistance, or offer a service, like massage or gardening. Want to give your kids a heart for service? Include them in the delivery and serving of a special meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Call 704.375.0100 or click here to learn more.
HPCCR also accepts financial donations. Learn more about making a financial gift here.
Get involved with one of HPCCR's many special events. Whether you're a runner, a foodie, or a sailing buff, there's an event for everyone. Soup on Sunday is a popular one. Each January, the region's best restaurants provide an array of delicious soups to sample. The event also features a selection of pottery available for purchase.
Learn more about upcoming events here.
Most people don't think about hospice and palliative care until they have to. Whenever the time comes, Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region is ready to serve not just the patient, but the entire family. And with generosity from people like you, they can continue to provide patients with the dignity and quality of life they deserve.
Grace Kennedy is a Huntersville-based writer specializing in storytelling for nonprofits. Learn more at gracekennedy.net.