Little gifts: Fund provides gifts for hospice patients, familiesMark Diede still remembers the bouquet of flowers his parents received on their 65th wedding anniversary. Delivered to the duo amongst family, neighbors and friends, it was the last time his parents were honored as a couple, he said.
Mark Diede still remembers the bouquet of flowers his parents received on their 65th wedding anniversary. Delivered to the duo amongst family, neighbors and friends, it was the last time his parents were honored as a couple, he said.
Diede’s father, Elmer, died in December 2010.
“It’s kind of something us children treasure, seeing that picture of mom and dad,” at the anniversary celebration with the bouquet, Diede said.
During one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, one group seeks to deliver a “warm fuzzy” like the flowers Diede’s family received. That could be any non-medical need including a bouquet, a sweet treat or perhaps even scrapbook supplies, said Pat Dardis, founder of the John Dardis Memorial Hospice Small Gift Fund.
Using a $5,000 memorial in her husband’s name, Pat Dardis’ brainchild was to give a special gift to patients in Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Hospice program. With fundraising and an anonymous gift, she’s increased the fund’s balance to about $17,000.
The program is similar to Eventide Hi-Acres’ Day Dream Team or the goal of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but the Small Gift Fund is specifically for hospice patients at JRMC.
Pat Dardis pioneered the idea two years ago.
She wanted the memorial money to benefit Jamestown and the people in it, because that’s what her husband would have wanted, she said. John always thought of others, she said, and one day when his cancer numbers were down, John was so overjoyed, he sent a bouquet of flowers to all of his nurses.
“The fund does exactly what John would be doing if John were still living,” Dardis said.
John owned Dardis Reality in Jamestown. He was an active member of St. James Basilica and a member of Eagles, Elks, American Legion and Knights of Columbus. He died of cancer at the age of 60, three years ago today.
“To me, the goal is simple, but very hard to achieve. It is to make those around me a little better off, than they were the day before,” John Dardis wrote in regards to his purpose in life in email correspondence with his wife.
Pat Dardis chose to benefit those with medical needs because of her health care background. Pat Dardis is a nurse practitioner. Another of the program’s catalysts was the special gift the Dardises received while John received cancer treatments.
While at a hospital in Fargo, a nurse stopped in with scones and coffee from Babbs Coffee House. The treat and “good” coffee was small, but unexpected and meaningful, Dardis said.
Like the surprise from the nurse, gifts from the Small Gift Fund are modest and their values don’t exceed $50. The money in the fund specifically benefits the patient, not the medical center.
“It’s not a (financial) need and they don’t ask for it,” said Jan Barnes, director of the Jamestown Regional Medical Center Foundation.
The Jamestown Regional Medical Center manages the fund, Barnes said.
And while financial need isn’t factored into who receives what gift, some of the patients do struggle with money. The fund provided scrapbook supplies to one woman who wanted to make photo albums for her family before she died. The woman was on a tight budget and may not have been able to afford the supplies otherwise, said Trisha Jungels, registered nurse and health and hospice manager and Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
Hospice serves 12-14 people a year in their homes, nursing facility or in the medical center. The program celebrates the end of life for patients who have six or fewer months to live.
Jungels and other JRMC hospice staff determine who receives gifts and what they should receive. Dardis said her goal is to expand the fund, and eventually increase the value of the gifts and to give to all patients in hospice care. And after that expansion, Dardis hopes to do one more. She said she hopes to send flowers to the family too, two to three months after the loved one’s death “when everyone’s gone and they’re alone,” Dardis said.
So far, the Small Gift Fund has given about 10 gifts to hospice patients and families since the program’s inception in 2009.
“They (the gifts) are one thing that can make you forget the difficult time that you’re going through,” Jungels said.
To give to the John Dardis Small Gift Memorial Hospice Small Gift Fund, send a check to the Jamestown Regional Medical Center Foundation, in care of the John Dardis’ fund.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at kryan-anderson@ jamestownsun.com