For those who are coming to the close of their stories, loved ones hope to make the transition as peaceful and serene as possible. That’s where Hospice of the Golden Isles comes in.

The local nonprofit has been a fixture of the community for 40 years, and during that time, they have created a compassionate respite for families in need of end of life care.

Of course, as a nonprofit, funding is always on the mind of its leaders. Karen Miller, CEO of Hospice of the Golden Isles, says that though care is covered by Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private insurance, there is still substantial costs to be covered.

“Hospice care is paid for by the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid and private insurance, but our hospice relies heavily on community fundraisers and donations to cover our many uncompensated patient care expenses,” she said.

“(HGI) provides the majority of our care in patients’ homes or nursing facilities, and we also operate a freestanding Hospice House that serves as a tremendous asset and safety net for residents of our community. In 2019, (HGI) provided more than $700,000 in uncompensated patient care, and the majority of these funds were needed to provide residential care at our Hospice House that is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.”

That makes fundraisers and donations crucially important. The money allows for patients who find themselves unable to pay to be treated. Extra funds can also help cover costs for upkeep and maintenance of the facility.

“Fundraisers and donations have helped Hospice purchase commercial generators and a new roof for the Hospice House,” Miller said.

Luckily for Hospice, it has a dedicated group of do-gooders who are committed to making sure it gets the funds needed. The Auxiliary of Hospice of the Golden Isles (AHGI) is comprised of locals who knows the value hospice’s services provide.

In fact, many of the auxiliary members have experienced it first-hand. That’s certainly true for AHGI’s president, Donna Johnson.

“Like so many of our volunteers and many others in our community, my husband and I have had friends who were served by the dedicated team at Hospice of the Golden Isles. We are so grateful for the compassionate care that they received and want to make sure that this meaningful service is available to everyone who needs it,” Johnson said.

“Many people think of hospice care only as ‘end of life’ care for the last days or weeks and don’t understand how much hospice can benefit both the patient and the family when they receive this specialized care earlier in the process.”

To assist in this mission, AHGI’s organizes a fundraiser each year — Wine, Women and Shoes. The national event concept is utilized by more than 200 nonprofit organizations worldwide. Locally, the event is held in February, with this year’s program set to begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Cloister on Sea Island.

Over its seven year history, Wine, Women and Shoes has raised nearly $250,000 for the mission. And the ladies have had a great time doing it.

As Hospice of the Golden Isles’ largest fundraiser, the upbeat affair is something that staff and volunteers look forward to each year, Miller adds.

“It is the most fun ‘girls day out’ in the area and is highly anticipated by ladies of all ages,” Miller said. “Over the years, our staff, board members and

volunteers have been thrilled to attend, volunteer and participate in the

fashion show.

“This is a sold out event each year because it has something for everyone with the marketplace, auction, wine tasting, raffles, luncheon and fashion show.”

The soirée boasts nearly 100 volunteers who ensure that every detail is just perfect. Saturday’s agenda will include award-winning wines, a designer boutique marketplace, magnificent silent and live auctions. There’s also a “Key to the Cellar” raffle, a fashion show, chance to win a dream closet and a seated lunch.

For Wine, Women and Shoes chair Becky Derrick, all of these elements add up to a fabulous afternoon for an even better cause.

“The event is rewarding because it’s a really fun day with such deep meaning. Many people don’t realize that HGI takes care of you wherever you call home — whether that’s a personal residence, nursing home, assisted living or even their hospice facility,” Derrick said.

“They take care of you whether you can afford it or not. They take care of your family when you’re gone. Every auction item won, bid card raised, raffle ticket purchased and drop of wine enjoyed is a love-offering for an amazing cause.”

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