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Partner Agency Spotlight: Wings of Hope and Wings Home

Earlier this month I met with Director of Development, Betty Jo Ferry and Executive Director, Theresa Lynn from Wings of Hope Hospice and Wings Home. These two ladies are some of the most passionate women I have ever met. Every time I meet with them they speak so enthusiastically about their organization. So naturally, my first question for them was why they enjoy working at Wings of Hope and Wings Home. 
Betty Jo replied “There’s excitement of being a part of an organization with great community support. I work with a great team and the work is worth it. The organization has a great reputation  in the community.”
Theresa Lynn, PhD has worked for different hospices for 17 years as a nurse and in grief support. This is her third hospice job. She responded to the question by saying “When people are running out of time they start living very authentically. It’s very inspiring to hear stories of  how our work affects family healing after a loved one’s death. It’s a ripple effect that goes on through time.”
Theresa has worked for different hospices, varying in size. What she likes about working at a small hospice, like Wings of Hope, is there are not a lot of layers of administration. New initiatives can be decided and implemented in one day. It is easy to share the rewards and good work with everyone, such as sharing thank you cards with the other staff in the office.
Last month the agency began a new program called Journeys Advanced Illness Management. It is an expansion of their old Journeys program. With the new program staff can now make medication suggestions while patients can have at-home doctor visits. Essentially, patients have access to a full fledged doctor-patient relationship. Medicare approved the program October 5. Currently, there are 27 active Journeys patients.
The agency’s impact doesn’t stop there. From January to September 2015, Wings of Hope Hospice served 191 people. The Wings Home, a four-bedroom house where patients can stay for free during their last 6 weeks of life, celebrated its 5-year anniversary in October. Since Wings Home opened its doors 5 years ago, the home has had 364 guests. 
Both agencies receive funding from Allegan County United Way. For the Wings Home, funds are used to staff night shift caregivers. “What United Way pays for is the heart of the program; providing care for the guests. United Way funding is vital. Nighttime is an especially vulnerable time, especially for someone with an illness who may also be lonely.” said Theresa. 
During the day, guests at the home are cared for by volunteers. Wings Home is always looking for volunteer caregivers. Interested individuals can shadow to see what the work is like and if it will be the right fit. 
Wings of Hope uses its funding for the Pain and Symptom Management program. The program allows hospice to serve more people. United Way money pays for a quality and comfortable life. “Many people fear dying more than death. United Way money helps Wings of Hope ease the fear and provide more comfort, ” stated Theresa in regard to United Way funding. By providing pain and symptom management, the patient is able to relax  with fewer symptoms that make him or her uncomfortable.  Research shows that those who choose hospice  live as many as 30 days longer than those who do not use the service. 
In addition to serving patients, Wings of Hope offers support to families and loved ones suffering from a loss. The agency offers grief support opened to any one, not just families who have been touched by Wings of Hope Hospice. 
The great leadership of the organization extends beyond the staff. Recently, Board President, Diane Barton, received the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In addition, Wings of Hope and Wings Home Volunteer, Dawn Sherman, was awarded for her community involvement and volunteer work by receiving an award at the 5th annual Spirit of Women Awards. 
For more information about Wings of Hope Hospice or Wings Home programming or to volunteer, please call Wings of Hope at (269) 686-8659 or visit