The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 22, 2013

Hospice of Limestone County celebrates milestone

By Lora Scripps
lora@athensnews-courier.com

— Hospice of Limestone County, the only nonprofit hospice in the county, has hit a milestone. The agency, dedicated to providing a care system for the terminally ill and their families, is celebrating 25 years of service and support.

The community is invited to take part in a 25th anniversary celebration from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, July 28, at the First Baptist Family Life Center. Organizers said everyone is invited to the “food, fellowship and family-oriented” event.

“Anyone can come by and say, ‘hello,’” said Betty Hamm, a board member and longtime volunteer who has been with the agency for more than 20 years. “The event is to honor Hospice of Limestone County and Director Pat King for her service.”

Hamm said the goal is to let others know the agency is here for everyone in the county. “We are their hospice,” she said, adding most people with roots in Limestone County have family or friends that have been associated with the agency. 

Director Pat King, who has been with the organization since October 1998, agrees with Hamm. “We are the hometown hospice,” she said. “We are Hospice of Limestone County.”

King said it is incredible how much the agency has grown in 25 years. “We started out with one and a half employees,” she said. “I was the half.

“Though we have evolved, our central mission of giving the best quality end-of-life care has not changed,” she continued. “It is for all ages and all people.”

She explained that people sometimes confuse Hospice of Limestone County with other hospice entities, but they are not the same.

In fact, those seeking services, she said, should ask for the organization by name. “We are the only Limestone-based hospice and the only nonprofit,” she said.

In the beginning the agency was told there were things the organization would never do. “We were told there wasn’t a need in Limestone County years ago,” King said. “We were told we wouldn’t have a patient with Lou Gehring’s disease, an AIDS patient or a child within the first five years. We had those patients within the first year.”

The group was also told they would not survive. The agency is now one of 10 nonprofit hospices in Alabama. “We have survived,” King said. “It’s because of strong community support. The credit is to the county. The credit is to the people here.”

King said when Hospice of Limestone County started, the board of directors had great foresight and plans. “They have made my job easier,” she said. “The board is a diverse cross section of Limestone County who take their job seriously.  I think that has made for success.”

Hamm said she was impressed by the agency years ago because of the commitment to stand by a family’s side even after a loved one passes. “Whether it’s a week, a month, a year or whatever,” she said. “When you need them, they are there. Once you know the people of hospice and how dedicated they are to what they do, to me they are some of the most caring, dedicated people that we have in Limestone County.”

From those who work behind the scenes to those in the community who have made Hospice of Limestone County what it is today, King and Hamm look forward to sharing with the community at the 25th anniversary celebration.

“Come out and have fun,” Hamm said. “Events like this bring the community together.”

King joked that at the Chili Challenge, organizers always say, “It’s a fundraiser.”

“We hope to raise money, but have fun,” she said. “This one, we are just having fun.”