SKOWHEGAN — When Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County holds its annual dinner and auctions on April 6, it will all be done with a sense of history.

Jason Gayne, executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County, said the organization is in its 30th year of operation and is looking for a new home. Morning Sentinel photo by Doug Harlow

The organization is celebrating its 30th year of operation, serving all of Somerset County and parts of Waldo and Penobscot counties, said Executive Director Jason Gayne. It also will be in search of a new headquarters because in January the seven-member board of directors sold the building the organization had called home.

“It wasn’t really fitting our needs,” Gayne said of the converted private home at 41 Main St. in Skowhegan. “The space was too small and the way that the building was designed, the majority of the clientele that we deal with, we couldn’t have private conversations with because all of the offices were upstairs.”

The building was owned by the board of the nonprofit organization, having been donated by nearby Redington-Fairview General Hospital. Before the Main Street location, Hospice had been housed in five or six different locations over the 30 years of its existence.

The current board chairman is Madison Town Manager Tim Curtis.

Gayne said the board worked out terms with the buyer, a foot doctor, so the group could remain in place until it finds new digs. It will move to temporary space in April at the Centenary United Methodist Church on Dr. Mann Road in Skowhegan until it can find a permanent place.

Gayne said 75 percent of the people served by the organization are those with a “hospice diagnosis,” meaning they have six months to live. The rest, Gayne said, are people with life-limiting illnesses.

For Kim DeMerchant, a board member and secretary for Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County, the services provided were a godsend when her mother, Ellen Carpentier, became ill in 2016.

Kim DeMerchant, a registered nurse and intake referral liaison at MaineGeneral Home Care in Waterville, is a Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County board member and agency secretary who used Hospice services when her mother became ill in 2016. Morning Sentinel photo by Doug Harlow

“I had been a volunteer earlier, and then my mom got sick and my husband got sick and I was on the board then,” DeMerchant said from her home Friday. “After my mother died, I went back to it. She died in May of 2016.”

She said her parents ran several businesses in Skowhegan over the years, including Don’s Trailer Sales.

DeMerchant, a registered nurse and intake referral liaison at MaineGeneral Home Care in Waterville, said Hospice “sent a wonderful lady” to come and sit with her mother when she became ill and to have lunch occasionally at the Redington Home, where her mother was living. She said her mother chose the home because she didn’t want to be a burden to any of her four daughters, Kim, Renee, Paula and Michelle.

“My mother called her ‘her girl,'” she said of the Hospice volunteer. “That’s what she called her. ‘My girl is coming.’ What she would do is just come and sit and talk with my mother. A couple of times a month she would come and have lunch with my mom. My mother would get all excited when she was coming. She’d sit and let my mother talk about things that she used to do.

“For my mom, that was a really nice piece. She was a companion.”

There are 15 active volunteers and six more who are in training, learning how to handle ethics, grief, respite and bereavement, and to be a hand to hold, maybe reminiscing about the client’s long life and family.

“We require two hours a week of our volunteers to go and provide service,” Gayne said. “It could be sitting with a client, reading with a client. It could be taking them for a drive. They go through 21 hours of training and 18 hours is regulated by the (Department of Health and Human Services) because we are licensed by DHHS.”

Gayne said the Hospice operating budget is $106,000 this year. He said small contributions come from contracts, but 75 percent of the budget is from grants, donations and fundraisers, the annual dinner and auction being the biggest fundraiser of the year.

The annual Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County dinner and auction is scheduled for 5 p.m. April 6 at T&B’s Celebration Center on Madison Avenue in Skowhegan. Tickets cost $30 per person.

 

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

 

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