A Celebration of Hospice Caregivers in Central Vermont

We have partnered with National Life Group to present Being There, a collection of portraits and stories from 14 hospice caregivers in central Vermont by photographer Corey Hendrickson.

The individuals featured include members of CVHHH’s interdisciplinary hospice team, CVHHH’s Hospice Medical Director and the Director of Palliative & Spiritual Care at Central Vermont Medical Center, a hospice volunteer, and family members of patients cared for by CVHHH’s hospice team.

For two years, Corey photographed these caregivers in spaces and doing activities that bring them joy and a sense of peace and balance. “When my grandmother died, I received help from several hospice volunteers,” said Corey. “I was moved by their willingness just to be there and wanted to use my art to explore the ways that hospice caregivers recharge and reflect on their profession.”

“Conversations about hospice are often, understandably, told from the patient’s perspective,” says Emily McKenna, Marketing & Communications Manager at CVHHH. “I was intrigued by Corey’s idea to explore the lives of hospice caregivers, volunteers, and family members of hospice patients. What do they do to maintain a sense of balance after they give so much of their time and energy to care for someone else?”

CVHHH has partnered with National Life Group to bring the exhibit to the community. “The exhibit is a good fit for National Life Group, which has had a relationship with CVHHH for many years,” says Beth Rusnock, President, National Life Group Foundation and Assistant Vice President, Corporate Marketing & Community Relations, National Life Group. “We see our role as helping families manage major life events with life insurance and annuities. CVHHH also helps families during challenging times by providing hospice care and other services. The exhibit shines a light on hospice caregivers and celebrates their work, demystifies hospice, and encourages individuals and families to take advantage of hospice when they need it.”

Meet the Caregivers

The caregivers were photographed in places or doing activities that help them maintain balance in their lives. While they had their portraits taken, many of the caregivers spoke about why they chose a career in hospice, what they feel makes them well-suited to the profession, and what they do to recharge.

Diana Moore, Bereavement Coordinator and member of Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photograph taken at the labyrinth at the First Congregational Church, Berlin, VT

“Any time I walk into a labyrinth, I feel like I’ve come home. I come [here] to shed things that I don’t need to carry and to receive support. And, this is a really sweet space for me with the apple trees and the lilac bushes and maple trees [which] are very nourishing and nurturing. It’s a sweet space.”

 

 

Larry Detweiler, Interfaith Chaplain and member of Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photograph taken on Larry’s front porch in Huntington, VT

“I like the motion of the swing and the movement and the ability to calm my thoughts and my emotions and to take in the beauty of nature around me. Typically, I’m on this swing with my wife next to me and we have that time to chat about what’s going on inside of us. Emotionally and spiritually, that’s very calming for me, very peaceful, and that’s very important for me to be able to settle myself in that fashion.”

 

 

 

Bonnie Breer, RN, and member of Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photograph taken at Pho Capital, Montpelier, VT

“At least once a month [Jeremiah and I] get together, and it just warms my heart. My work helps me appreciate my family more and your friends and just the little things.”

 

 

 

 

Bridget Coburn, RN, and former member of Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photograph taken at Fairmont Farm, East Montpelier, VT

“It’s such a joy to come up here and look at the cows and help my son out, just connecting with the animals. I think animals are a great form of therapy, and it’s something I truly enjoy. No matter how busy my time is or my life is, it’s amazing to be able to come up here and connect with the cows and spend time with my son and do things that are meaningful for me as well.”

 

Gordie Eurich, whose wife, Casey, was cared for by CVHHH’s Hospice Team
Photograph taken at Mad River Glen, Fayston, VT

“My first date with Casey was up here, skiing. The last run I took with her skiing was also up here. [Ellen] and I are hiking to the top of Paradise, which is where I skied in 1991 and decided I was mature enough to get married and made the decision on the top of that trail, looking over the Valley. And a few years later, [I] made the decision that I was mature enough to have a child. We’re going up there today to reflect a little bit and to be a part of the mountain again.”

Jean Semprebon, former Hospice Volunteer Coordinator
Photograph taken at Jean’s home in Barre Town, VT

“[The] outdoors is very important to me. One winter, we had a snowstorm that took down a tree that’s in the hedge of my hemlocks. So, I cleaned out the inside of that area and made it into a sitting area so I could go out there and read in the summertime. Just being in nature, and the quiet of nature, that is a gift.”

 

 

Jewelene Griffin, RN, and former Hospice & Palliative Care team manager
Photograph taken in Jewlene’s office at CVHHH, Berlin, VT

“I have worked in the hospice industry for more than 20 years and absolutely love what I do. I feel privileged to be a part of patients’ and families’ lives at such a precious time. The hours are long and the responsibility is great, but the reward is worth it. I am proud to be a part of the hospice community.”

 

 

Jonna Goulding, MD, Hospice Medical Director for CVHHH and Director of Palliative & Spiritual Care, Central Vermont Medical Center
Photograph taken in Jonna’s home in Randolph Center, VT

“Making music has a lot to do with palliative care. I think the best practitioners of this type of medicine and the best musicians have certain skills that they’ve learned over time. The key is, once you have the skills, so much of it is about stopping, holding the space, and listening. And I don’t know a good hospice practitioner, nurse of physician, and I certainly don’t know any good musicians, who aren’t great listeners. You have to be able to hear other people and adjust.”

Julie Shevlin, RN, and member of Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photograph taken near the Unadilla Theatre, Marshfield, VT

“When I find a spot like this, I can’t help myself but to pull over and start taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what season it’s been. It’s been worthy of pictures every time. I find it really therapeutic to see the beauty in between the emotions of [my] patients. To be able to relax by what you see in nature is awesome.”

 

 

Liz Robinson, Licensed Nursing Assistant, and member, Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photograph taken at Liz’s home in Williamstown, VT

“When I come home from work, I like to spend an hour, maybe two hours [in the garden]. It’s just to kind of clear my mind from the day, from any stress. Just pulling a few little weeds is relaxing and enjoyable to me. I plant extra vegetables for my dad and my mom so they can have fresh vegetables throughout the summer.”

 

 

Mary Larsen, RN, and member of Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Photographed at Mary’s home in Moretown, VT

“I find being with the horses to be very grounding and centering. At the end of a workday, I’m going to the barn and feeding the horses and cleaning out the stalls. It doesn’t matter what else is happening in my world or in the world. They still need to be fed. They still need attention. Sort of [brings] me back to that everyday life. Life goes on, no matter what.”

 

Michelle Acciavatti, Funeral Director, Guare & Sons Funeral Home, and former CVHHH Hospice Volunteer 
Photographed in Hubbard Park, Montpelier, VT

“Hubbard Park is large enough that you can get to places in the woods where you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes, before I’m ready to [go] back home, I’ll walk around or wander. It reminds me that there’s a constant cycle of life and death that, once you become aware of [it], you realize thatdeath is a part of life, that it’s with us everyday. Coming to nature is a way for me to experience this in a more simplified way, without the complexity of how you feel when a person is dying.”

Tess Kennedy, whose husband, Doug, was cared for by CVHHH’s Hospice Team
Photograph taken at American Red Cross, Burlington, VT

“I started regularly donating platelets because of my late husband, Doug. You come and you sit for two hours and you feel like you’re doing something about the illness. The common theme for anybody who is diagnosed with terminal cancer is it renders them helpless. You literally cannot do a single thing to fix this person you love. At least by donating blood products, I’m doing something. Pay it forward. That’s how I see it.”

Theresa Lever, M.Ed., Retired Patient Navigator at National Life Cancer Treatment Center, Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC)
Photograph taken outside of CVMC, Berlin, VT

“As a social worker, I’ve learned that there are so many things that I couldn’t fix. I can’t actually fix this person’s cancer. But there are so many small things that I can have an impact on that will mean something to somebody. One thing I’ve learned is how far kindness goes.”