Megan, left, and Melody Gingrich pick out some choice daffodils for a customer Tuesday at Safeway in Craig. The pair was among a number of volunteers selling daffodils called "Heralds of Hope" at Safeway, City Market, The Flower Mine and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Craig office as a fundraiser for hospice care. The fundraiser went on throughout the day.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Megan, left, and Melody Gingrich pick out some choice daffodils for a customer Tuesday at Safeway in Craig. The pair was among a number of volunteers selling daffodils called "Heralds of Hope" at Safeway, City Market, The Flower Mine and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Craig office as a fundraiser for hospice care. The fundraiser went on throughout the day.

Hope in bloom

Annual daffodil sale collects funds for area hospice program serving patients, families

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Volunteering or donating money to hospice

• Community members can make donations to hospice care at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Craig office, 745 Russell St. Checks should be made payable to "Hospice."

• For more information or to become a hospice volunteer, call 871-7660.

Applying for hospice care

• Individuals must provide a doctor's written note testifying that they are in the last stages of life and must have a full-time primary caregiver to be eligible for the program.

• Medicare or private insurance can help cover hospice care costs for many individuals.

• For more information, call 824-8233.

— Hope and spring's resurgence.

It's what bundled yellow daffodils represented for Sue Jones, a volunteer at an area hospice care program.

Jones and other volunteers sold the flowers during the annual "Heralds of Hope" fundraiser for hospice, a health care service for individuals entering life's final stages.

Hospice care operates under the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, which serves Moffat and Routt counties.

The program provides in-home health care for qualified individuals and can give a respite to their caretakers, VNA volunteer coordinator Kris Bye said.

Hospice "allows (patients) to have dignity in death," she said. "It allows them to die at home."

To be eligible for the program, a doctor must verify that the patient is in the last stage of life. Medicare will provide financial assistance for most people who qualify for hospice, Jones said, and many private health insurance companies also cover hospice care costs.

Nurses tend to patients' physical needs, Bye said, while volunteers lend a willing hand and a listening ear to patients and their caretakers.

A volunteer's duties can vary, she said, from light housekeeping to simply sitting with a hospice patient while the family takes a needed break.

Bye speaks from experience. As a hospice volunteer, she willfully has taken on many tasks, including feeding hospice patients and sitting with grieving widows after a loved one has passed.

"If they're willing to take a volunteer, we'll do it," Bye said.

On Tuesday, Bye helped run the one-day "Heralds of Hope" fundraiser intended to sell about 5,000 bunches of daffodils across the two-county area.

About 500 of those bunches were designated to sell in Craig, Bye said. With each bunch set to sell at $5, the area hospice program had the potential to gain $2,500.

Bye said she'd be satisfied if the sale collected at least $2,000.

All sale proceeds are deposited in a joint VNA fund, which distributes the funds to hospice programs in Craig and Steamboat.

Proceeds pay for hospice materials and programs including bereavement care, which tracks hospice caretakers 13 months after the death of their loved ones.

After hosting an early pre-sale, hospice staff and volunteers had one day to sell the remaining daffodils.

Jones has volunteered with the hospice program for 10 years, and Tuesday was at least the eighth time she has volunteered for the "Heralds of Hope," she said.

Like Bye, Jones has carried out a wide spectrum of tasks for hospice patients and their families. She's written letters for individuals in hospice care and kept them company while caregivers briefly leave the house, among other jobs.

A volunteer's presence can help relieve a caregiver's burden and create "a more peaceful time" for the patient, she said.

Being a hospice volunteer also has rewards for Jones.

"There's a kind of giving a person can do," she said after a long pause. "It's a selfless kind of giving."

Volunteering in the hospice program gives a chance to forget her own problems while trying to alleviate those of others, she added.

"For one period of time, it's not about you," she said. "It's about someone else."

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