08/24/09 — Kitty Askins volunteers launch $4M capital campaign

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Kitty Askins volunteers launch $4M capital campaign

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 24, 2009 1:59 PM

Kitty Askins Hospice Center volunteers are looking for donors to help with an expansion project that would add 12 more beds to the facility.

Late last year, Kitty Askins received state approval to proceed with a plan to double its occupancy to 24 beds and to add 13,000 square feet to the facility. Since then, the center, owned and operated by 3HC, has worked on fundraising for the $4 million project.

The 10 members of the leadership committee spearheading the fund drive were chosen for their interest in Kitty Askins. Each has personal reasons for wanting to see its success continue.

Several years ago, Kitty Askins became like a "home away from home" for Cathy Fonvielle's family.

"My dad was there for 18 months, which was very unusual at the time," she said. "We spent two Christmases there. We celebrated his 80th birthday."

He passed away in 2008. Yet, when she and her granddaughter go back to Kitty Askins to visit, Mrs. Fonvielle says, "She'll still say, 'Can I go to Papa's room?'"

The emotions are still fresh, even moreso because of the blessing her family received during the experience.

"We were just amazed at how long daddy lived there and visitors came," Mrs. Fonvielle said. "People got to see hospice isn't just a place to die."

Beverly Keen also became familiar with the center after having friends and family members stay there.

"I'm just in awe of the quality of care and how peaceful the facility and the staff is as they care for families and patients," she said. "I have really got a heart for this after having seen firsthand what the facility can provide for people."

Kay Cooke recalled visiting friends' parents who lived out their final days at Kitty Askins.

"While there, I was so impressed with the serenity of the place and what a positive atmosphere was there," she said. "I would hope that this could be made available to many more people because it's such a positive and kind and gentle way the people do live their lives."

The center has also drawn a wealth of volunteers -- churches and organizations lending their time to visit or read to patients, even family members who have lost loved ones often return to assist with parties or to otherwise support efforts at Kitty Askins.

Because, as Kitty Sauls said, it's about more than dollars and cents.

"I have been so caught up in doing stuff, worrying about budgets, finding money, but I realize it always comes back to the people," she said. Kitty Askins was able to serve 187 people last year, she explained, while twice that number didn't make it in because of limited space.

But the center serves more than just the patients, she pointed out. It's also for their loved ones.

"They really nurture the family and help the family let go," she said. "The staff is incredible, I think it takes a special person to work there."

Phyllis Woodard serves on the committee because of two special women -- her mother and the woman for whom the center was named.

"I knew her," she said of the original Kitty Askins. Mrs. Woodard's mother also volunteered her services, baking cakes for three years to take out to the center. "She would come back the most uplifted. She was inspired by the staff and facility."

When her mother was no longer able to volunteer, Mrs. Woodard decided she wanted to contribute in other ways. The center is a valuable resource, and the expansion is needed, she said.

"I hope we never have to turn anyone down," she said.

Tom Buffkin, president of Franklin Bakery, moved often before settling in Wayne County nine years ago. He said he has been impressed at the work being done at Kitty Askins.

"I have never lived in a town more caring and more generous and more sharing than Goldsboro," he said. "The thing about Kitty Askins is about meeting the needs of the community .... It seems it would be a high emergency, a high area of priority for the community."

Donna Braswell of State Employees Credit Union also saw the campaign as an opportunity to serve. She learned more about Kitty Askins through the SECU Foundation's involvement, which sparked a personal interest that resulted in her joining the leadership committee.

"I was excited about it," she said. "It's personal. My husband-to-be has two children who lost their mother to cancer -- they were 4 and 7 -- I have seen them grow up without their mother. Everyone of us knows someone, even if it hasn't been in our own family. I have several friends who have battled cancer."

Being in a position to help Kitty Askins expand for other families was an opportunity she couldn't pass up, Ms. Braswell said.

"This is a role I have chosen, to try to be a ministry of sorts," she said. "We are all challenged with, 'What can I do and where can I find a place?'"