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Hospice of the Western Reserve offers meaningful ‘Meal to Remember’

Thursday, November 24, 2011

By Jean Bonchak, The News-Herald

Editor’s note: Today marks the 31st annual kickoff of The News-Herald’s partnership with the Hospice of the Western Reserve on the holiday greeting card program. People are encouraged to donate to Hospice the amount of money they normally would spend on greeting cards and stamps. In return, their name appears in an ad on Christmas Day. The program has generated thousands of dollars for Hospice over the years.

Tamika Storrs’ sparkling smile and bright countenance reflected the cheerful atmosphere as Hospice of the Western Reserve patients and their families were recently brought together for “A Meal to Remember.”

Storrs shared the evening at David Simpson Hospice House in Cleveland, along with family members, and most significantly, her grandfather Steve Graves, who has cancer.

“We cherish every moment of time we get to spend with our grandfather,” Storrs said. “I think it’s a blessing and we’re so thankful for the opportunity.”

Top chefs from the area provided a meal of signature appetizers served in the elegantly set rotunda with the serenade of live, soft music.

“It’s a beautiful occasion,” Graves said with a wide smile matching that of his granddaughter.

Hospice of the Western Reserve plans to continue the event on a monthly basis in 2012, with various local restaurants hosting.

“In the future, we would like to provide the same experience at our Ames Family Hospice House set to open in June in Westlake,” said Bill Finn, chief executive officer of Hospice of the Western Reserve. “Eventually, we would like to increase the frequency of Meals to Remember from once a month to twice a month, so that more patients and families can participate and have these special moments.”

Finn noted that “to recreate this family gathering around the table, coupled with world class food creates a meaningful way to celebrate life, to be together as a family and embrace each moment.” 

At the recent event at the David Simpson Hospice House, laughter emanated from the table surrounded by patient Deontae Hines and his family, supporting Finn’s statement.

Hines said he couldn’t get enough of the gourmet pizza made by Beach Club Bistro and Grille owner Greg Jurcisin. Family members kept him supplied with helpings from the station set amid a grouping of 10 eateries, including Bistro 185, Greenhouse Tavern, John Palmer’s Bistro 44, all serving their specialties buffet-style.

“The quality and talent in this  room is amazing,” Jurcisin said. “There are a lot of very generous people here.”

Patient Harriet Karsh was impressed with what she described as “fresh, modern style cooking,” and added the event “is a nice way for families to be together in a celebratory way.”

Patient Joy Bakunas appeared to savor lobster fried rice prepared by Chef Brandt Evans of Pura Vida in Cleveland’s Gateway District.

“I haven’t had lobster in such a long time, the flavor is so good” she said. “Tonight is a highlight. It’s an awesome event to bring in first rate chefs.”

Doug Katz, owner of Fire, Food and Drink restaurant on Shaker Square, dished up butternut squash ravioli. He said it was an easy choice to help with the affair because Hospice seems to “touch everyone at sometime in their lives.”

While plating a colorful shaved root vegetable salad, Derek Clayton, corporate executive chef for the Michael Symon Restaurant Group agreed the decision to participate was a simple one.

“This one hit the core for me because it’s about family sitting down and eating dinner,” he said.

David Adams’ father was a patient at Hospice in 1998. Adams’ mother, Carolyn, afflicted with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, resides there now. 

He lauded Hospice and the event.

“This is unlike any kind of facility no matter where you go,” Adams said. “(Staff members) are angels on earth. I don’t know how else to describe them.

“When you’re here you’re so intensely focused on your loved one you’re only dimly aware of other people going through much the same things. (This is) a chance to step back from the intense emotions and feel normal once again.”

For more information on Hospice of the Western Reserve, visit hospicewr.org.

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