Q & A with Walk to Remember 2017 Volunteer Chairs: Ralph and Marianne Betters
Why is Hospice of the Western Reserve important to you?
Marianne: We live in a culture that is not comfortable thinking of death or talking about it. We do everything we can to stay young; it's a billion-dollar industry. So, when a person receives a terminal diagnosis, it can be very lonely for them and their family. So many who are close to them do not know what to say and some pull back. They don't want to pull back, but they feel helpless.
I am a counselor and worked at a church for some years. The most powerful thing I learned in my education and practice is that nothing is more important than compassionate presence. We cannot fix things for people however much we might want to.
When my husband and I retired, it felt like a natural progression to go from counseling to hospice work, because there, presence is everything. Whether it is with a dementia patient in the last year or so of life, or a non-responsive patient in the last hours, I am deeply humbled that these patients and families welcome me, a stranger, into their sacred space.
It is especially rewarding to share a passion for this work with my husband. The range of services that are provided by the staff of Hospice of the Western Reserve is amazing. In addition to the bedside presence, volunteers also make an impact behind the scenes. There are those who help with a special meal, assist a family with yardwork or errands or work on fundraising - so much more than I could begin to list. I am very grateful to be a part of Hospice of the Western Reserve.
Ralph: Hospice of the Western Reserve is an organization that provides such a valued service to patients and their loved ones at a time when they need it most. We have witnessed their caring, loving and compassionate touch with our friends, and it inspired us to be a part of the agency.
Why are you looking forward to Walk to Remember 2017?
Marianne: The Walk to Remember is a powerful way to honor those who have died and those who have walked with them. It is also an opportunity to let the public know that we can think and talk about death in an atmosphere of hope and love, and much less fear. The community setting in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, where life is abundant, is a beautiful way to reach the public. We are grateful that many of our children and grandchildren want to participate and get a closer look at the end of life as part of the celebration of the circle of life we share. Those who are a part of this Walk to Remember can reach out and share with others the message of life and love that is the heart of the Hospice of the Western Reserve.
Ralph: Not only is this a great event that celebrates the life and memories of our loved ones, it also provides support to carry on the mission of care, love and compassion for future generations. We are particularly excited about the opportunity to teach service and support to our children and grandchildren in a fun environment like the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!