Hospice impacts lives, benefits community

For nine years, David and Mary Kee White danced for a good cause at the Big Bad Ball, a fundraiser for area hospice services.

“She loved to dance,” said David White, who also has volunteered with Hospice of Wake County for the past 15 years.

The two had been high school sweethearts; after more than a quarter-century apart, they reunited for 31 happily married years.

Then in 2010, Mary was diagnosed with acute peritoneal cancer. As her condition deteriorated, family could no longer care for her at home because she became too weak. The couple found themselves in need of the very hospice program to which David had dedicated years.

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“I never thought I’d see my wife in this center or have the folks here treat her, but those things happen,” White said.

The hospice rooms are warm and inviting, unlike most hospital rooms, he said. The beds can be rolled outside into the gardens, and family members can stay the night.

Mary spent her final days there and died earlier this year.

“I can never repay them for what they did for me and my wife,” White said.

HOWC home care currently covers 272 terminally ill people per day – up from 120 last year – as well as the 20-bed round-the-clock care facility.

“Hospice cannot take a patient unless their physician provides a work order saying they’re terminally ill and treatments will no longer help,” White said. “This operation is about pain control and quality of life. It’s the best we can do for our loved ones.”

And bridging the grieving process for families helps them move on while remembering those who died.

“There’s a lot of competition out there for people’s dollars, and community members are weighing who really deserves their support,” White said. Every dollar HOWC raises goes directly to patient care.

The 2001 inaugural ball was the vision of the Capital City Club’s Young Executives. The benefit generates more than $100,000 per year to support hospice’s Benevolent Care Program, which provides end-of-life care for terminally ill patients and their families, and the Horizons Grief Center, which reaches out to grieving families through counseling, support groups, services of remembrance and a children’s camp.

White will attend the black-tie ball again this year, and he is still volunteering.

“The more you give, the more you get back.”

What: Big Bad Ball, featuring two bands, five open bars, food and a silent auction.
When: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Oct. 1
Where: Capital City Club, Raleigh
Cost: $100 now, $125 after Aug. 31.
For more information: Call 919-828-0890 or go online to BigBadBall.com.

The News & Observer
Aug 2011