‘Integrity and heart’: Hospice of the Foothills hosts virtual Moonlight Magic Gala, fundraiser

As with most nonprofits in 2020 and in celebration of their 41st year in service, Hospice of the Foothills has made the move from an in person to a virtual event. It was just a year ago the organization launched “Moonlight Magic,” a festive evening of dinner, dance and auction to raise awareness and much needed funding.

Director of Marketing and Events Kristen Donahue said it was a fun way to bring people together. “Most of our events are mailings and memorial types of events and we didn’t have anything that brought the community in to celebrate. It happened to be our 40th anniversary of being in the community so we thought it would be great to celebrate with people up close and personal to thank those who have supported us over the years and maybe bring in some new faces to learn about the organization and just have some fun.”

The affair was so successful, plans for the next Moonlight Magic were underway almost immediately with newly hired Marketing and Event Manager Mary Anne Davis taking the lead, and then COVID-19 changed everything.

“The pandemic made it even more important to keep that connection with people in whatever way we could,” said Donahue. “And also because as a healthcare operation, it hit us really hard financially as well.” Noting the cost of PPE equipment alone skyrocketed, as well as other increased expenses to ensure the safety of the patients and the caregivers.

The pandemic not only changed the way funds could be raised, but also increased the need for those resources.

Executive Director Viv Tipton explained Hospice caregivers are still in people’s homes and caring for patients. “The difference the donations make, is it allows us to say ‘yes,’ over and over again. Everything we do, every decision we make, is focused on how it ties to our mission. Most times that goes beyond what Medicare pays us for.”

That mission, as stated on their website, “is to provide compassionate end-of-life support for patients, families and the community.”

While many think of hospice as end of life care, Hospice of the Foothills strives to support the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the patient and the family, which comes in many forms. For example, Tipton said, “We had a patient that needed to be evacuated during a recent fire. He was bed bound and needed to be with a family member in Lincoln. We were asked if we could pay for that ambulance and we were able to say, ‘Yes, we can’ because what was most important to that family, in that moment and to that patient, was for him to get down to Lincoln. So, it is all of those unique, beautiful ways that are different for every family that we get to say yes to, and that is really what the fundraising arm is all about.”

To meet the need, organizers quickly regrouped for an online extravaganza. Moonlight Magic Virtual Gala takes place tomorrow evening (Friday, Oct. 2) from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. beginning with cocktails. Davis said, “We’ll start with an optional cocktail party on Zoom so people can interact that way and to help them get familiar before the event actually starts.” While the event is free, people need to register in advance to get the link and Davis suggests starting a little bit early will help those who are not familiar with the online meeting group.

Emceed by KNCO Program Director Tom Fitzsimmons, the evening will include a message from Suzanne Voter about her experience with Hospice of the Foothills and her mother’s end of life journey and Susan Drown will deliver a tribute to her late husband Bill who succumbed to a battle with cancer in March. Bill was an active member of the community and served on several boards including Hospice of the Foothills.

On a different note, guests will also enjoy a special appearance by 50s and 60s teen heartthrob, actor, and singer Frankie Avalon.

The event will wrap up with a virtual live auction. Auctioneer Gary Lorentzen will entice participants to “bid high and bid often.” Generous donations up for grabs include a day houseboating on Bullard’s Bar donated by Mimi Simmons and Phil Ruble; a “Paw-tography” session donated by Kim Sayre; a Napa getaway package good for two years that includes a private tasting at Opus One; flowers for a year from Foothill Flowers; fuel ($100 a month) for a year from Robinson Enterprises; and a portable generator donated by Riebe’s along with a Solatube from Byers. Bidding will take place in the chat section at the event in real time.

The dollars donated will serve beyond the physical needs of patients. The community should know that the staff at Hospice of the Foothills dedication goes beyond an hourly wage, Tipton said.

“We have staff that moves with courage, vulnerability, a high level of skill, a high level of integrity and heart. It takes a special person to walk through those doors and meet those families where they are, and we have an agency that is to the brim with those types of employees that are just phenomenal. I could not be more proud of each and every person who makes the decision to do this kind of work.”

That caliber of staff has paid off for Hospice of the Foothills as the organization has achieved the highest accreditation of “deemed status” by the Joint Commission, the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and assessment body in health care, something only 4% of hospice agencies in the United States can claim.

If the work of Hospice of the Foothills alone is not enough to have you attend Moonlight Magic Virtual Gala, Davis added there will be door prizes. “During our half hour cocktail party, we will be spinning a wheel to give away a variety of prizes to those who attend.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy some Moonlight Magic in the comfort of your own home. Register today or up to the start of the event at www.hofo.org.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at [email protected]

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