Spring Camp HOPE 2018

Another Camp HOPE has come and gone, and we are left with the tan lines from that sunny day and the memories that remain. The weather, albeit a little hot for this former Montana girl, was perfect. The sun was shining, a nice breeze was continuous off the lake and we felt the blessings of the day before the families even arrived. Something that I love during our camps is that moment when the air changes. That moment when families start to arrive and things go from that event planning chaos to the calm and excitement of watching these people on their grief journey right in front of us.


Spring camp is very different from fall camp, in that you get to watch these participants in their family dynamic. You watch them grieve and learn and heal together.


I will never not be amazed by the tools of expression that are utilized in camp. Comparing a giant swing hoisted up in the tree to the feelings of helplessness that we experience after a loss. Then taking that comparison and driving it home by describing how to overcome those feelings. I could go through every tool of expression and gush about them for hours, but nothing comes close to seeing it in person. I watched families listen and absorb the lessons, I like to think I watched some healing too.


Equally as amazing to watch is the bereavement team in action. Not only them, but all the volunteers. You can see the fire and the passion that they have for these children and these families. It is beyond magical to be blessed enough to capture these moments from behind the lens of a camera. I will always be grateful for that. For healing. For camp. For Shepherds Cove. For the families. For the weather. For the day.

On Memorial Day and serving those who selflessly served us

As another Memorial Day approaches, we become reflective on the service of our American heroes. I was born to a 7th generation Army veteran. My family’s history has been colored with service in the United States Military, so this particular holiday is a big one for us. My great-grandfather was killed in combat in WWII. My grandfather was 3 years old at the time, and this loss impacted him for years to come.


When my grandfather was just 16, he signed up to join the military. During that time, the need for active duty soldiers was pretty huge, so not many questions were asked. Well, not until my great-grandmother showed up as he was about to board the bus for basic training and demanded to know where her teenage son was going. She took him back home to Alder Springs that night. He officially enlisted when he was 18 years old, eager and ready to serve our country just like his father and his father’s father had before him. During his service, he married my grandmother, and they had two sons who would also go on to join. My father joined the Army, and my uncle joined the Navy.


None of the men in my family joined the military for the glory or the praise. They joined because it was what they felt like they needed to do. We have an equally rich military history on my mother’s side, her brother having gone to Vietnam. My father, my uncle and my grandfather don’t consider themselves veterans or heroes, but I do. They’re my heroes. It’s too often that those that sacrificed so much for our country do not see that sacrifice in themselves.


My story is not one that is incredibly unique – family full of those who have served but that also very much downplay their service. When a veteran comes to Shepherd’s Cove, we make sure they know we appreciate what they have done for us. We offer them an ear or a hand who can understand, many of our staff and volunteers being veterans themselves. It is such a small gesture to thank someone, especially for something so big. So, this Memorial Day, we would like do a tribute to those we have served who so selflessly served us. Check out the information at www.shepherdscovehospice.org/memorialday.

Raising awareness for child abuse

National Child Abuse Prevention month may be ending soon, but the fight against child abuse and neglect continues. And it’s one we can all be part of.

Blue pinwheels spin in front of the Shepherd’s Cove Hospice sign, which has been lit blue for the past week. If you saw any of our staff members out and about this month, you likely spotted a blue ribbon attached to their nametag. We embraced blue in April to help bring awareness to the issues of child abuse and neglect.

But what do child abuse and neglect have to do with Shepherd’s Cove Hospice? There are many factors that can lead to child abuse. At Shepherd’s Cove Hospice, we strive to do our part to lower or eliminate the number of local children who are abused and neglected because their parents or guardians don’t know how to cope with grief.

Grief affects everyone at some point in their lives. One recent study showed, in on year in the U.S.:

  • Eight million people suffered through the death of someone in their immediate family.
  • An estimated 800,000 spouses lost their husband or wife.
  • 400,000 people under 25 suffered from the death of a loved one.

We also know one in five children will experience the death of someone close to them by the age of 18.

When not dealt with properly, grief can have major negative effects on families. Adults who do not know how to cope with their grief in a positive manner can easily lose sight of their responsibilities to the children under their care. They also may not know how to help those children, who are likely grieving as well.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one and may need some help, don’t ignore their grief or take it lightly. Point them to counseling and support groups. There is no shame in asking for help, needing some extra support from others during such difficult times. Numerous support groups are available throughout the area. Shepherd’s Cove Hospice offers one-on-one counseling and support groups for people of all ages and stages of life, regardless of the nature of their loss. They do not have to have been served by hospice. All our grief support services are available free of charge. Visit our website or call 256-891-7724 to learn more about these services.

What victory looks like

“I made it through the whole thing!”

Such was the exclamation of Race to Remember participant Margarett Davis. In her 70s, this was the first time she had made it through the entire 5K course. Although this is a chip-timed race on a certified route, this sweet soul was never there for records’ sake. For her, victory was not being first across the finish line. It was finishing the race, seeing all her loved ones honor her late husband Kenneth, and knowing she helped others in the process.

Margarett has participated in the race every year since her husband’s death in 2014. Shepherd’s Cove Hospice served him for about three months.

The best part is Margarett never walks alone. She and her family form Team Davis for the race each year and walk together in Kenneth’s memory. The Davis’ are a great example of the basis of hospice care. The end of life road and journey of grief can be scary by yourself. No one should have to walk it alone. At Shepherd’s Cove Hospice, we want to be with you as a faithful companion and trusted guide every step of the way.

We know memories connect us. Through participating in the Race to Remember, Team Davis connects with others facing an end-of-life road to help provide comfort and support.

Thanks to more than 700 people who participated in the Race to Remember, countless others in our community will receive the hope and help they need at the end of life. By linking together with the common bond of memories, families and friends from across our area also linked together to provide hospice care and grief support for those who need it through Shepherd’s Cove Hospice. No amount of thanks will ever be enough to match the impact these individuals made on others facing some of life’s darkest moments.

The 2018 Race to Remember has raised more than $62,000 so far for Shepherd’s Cove. But it’s not over. Fundraising continues through April 30. Fundraising awards will be handed out in May. Everyone who gives at least $10 from April 14-30 will also be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card, sponsored by CarePlus. Donate online at racetoremember.run.


National Healthcare Decisions Day: choosing comfort

The family of Barbara Bush went public with a very private decision Sunday when they announced the former first lady will no longer seek aggressive treatments, but instead opted for “comfort care.”

At 92 years old, Bush has suffered from COPD and congestive heart failure for around two years, according to news reports. After a recent series of hospital stays, she decided it was time to take a different route.

It’s important to note, Mrs. Bush did not give up treatment. She elected a different kind of treatment. She chose a different path – one that focuses on quality of life, not cures.

The family’s decision to make such an announcement is significant. It does not signify hopelessness. It speaks to their belief in a new kind of hope for their matriarch – hope for a better life in the time she has left. They hope for more memories, more love, and more enjoyment of the coming days with their mother and grandmother.

Isn’t that what most people want? When you picture the end of your life, do you picture struggles in and out of the hospital? Or does your picture encompass taking control of your own care, spending more time with those you love most, enjoying life to the fullest and making memories friends and family can hold onto after you’re gone? Which do you think would most benefit your loved ones in the long run?

The announcement hit the news cycles Monday morning, which also happens to be National Healthcare Decisions Day. We don’t know the circumstances behind the decision Mrs. Bush and her family made regarding her care. We hope it wasn’t a last-minute struggle. We hope she and her family had this discussion years ago.

Don’t put off such important decisions as your end-of-life care or that of a loved one until moments of crisis – when the physical and emotional toll of illness is at an all-time high. Make them early, when you have time to really think clearly and plan thoroughly. Death is not an easy subject to broach in your own mind, much less in conversations with your loved ones, but help is available. To learn practical tips on end-of-life care decisions and how to start the conversations with your loved ones and doctor, visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website, nhdd.org.

Hospice Care: myths vs. facts

The thought of hospice is difficult and can be overwhelming. End-of-life care is a topic that is not easily discussed and is typically not thought about until needed.

There are also many myths and misconceptions about hospice care.

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing, and in most cases, care is provided in the patient’s home. Hospice care is also provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, and nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness. Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.

As one of the region’s only non-profit hospice organizations, Shepherd’s Cove Hospice, founded as Hospice of Marshall County, is focused on providing care not only for the patients but also their loved ones through grief support.

As part of our holistic approach, we at Shepherd’s Cove Hospice have put together the information below sharing the truths to combat some of the myths and misconceptions. We are glad to answer any questions you may have about hospice care.

Appreciating those that served us so selflessly

Are veterans prepared for the end of life?
We hosted a luncheon to help veterans prepare for life’s most difficult journey

Veteran heroes spent months preparing for their journey into battle, but so often they are ill-prepared for one of the most important journeys – the end of life.
Preparing the correct legal and financial documents ahead of time can bring a great measure of peace during that end-of-life journey. Veterans have special needs in this preparation process. Veterans or families of veterans were invited to a luncheon to learn more about these needs and get help. The luncheon took place Nov. 9 at 11:30 a.m. in the Shepherd’s Cove Hospice Community Room at 408 Martling Road in Albertville.

The program featured a special presentation for veterans followed by opportunities for free, private consultations with the legal and financial professionals of the Shepherd’s Cove Hospice Planned Giving Council.

A family fun day at 5 Star




Albertville – Families across Sand Mountain are invited to enjoy inflatables, food and fun at the Family Fun Day event Nov. 4 at Five Star Sports Complex in Albertville.

Admission will be free to Five Star’s indoor inflatable play center from 10 a.m. to noon. Attendees can enjoy free snacks, food trucks, and free registration for the upcoming Race to Remember 5K, which benefits Shepherd’s Cove Hospice.

Look for the Family Fun Day event on Facebook or call 256-891-7724 for more information.

The annual Race to Remember color-optional run is set for April 14. It is the largest annual fundraiser for Shepherd’s Cove Hospice, which provides peace and comfort to those facing an end-of-life journey in Marshall and eight other surrounding counties.

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Witnessing HOPE

This year was my very first Camp HOPE. As someone who was a show horse rider for the better part of 10 years, I hoped to be assigned to the horse area…God had different plans for me. (As he is wont to do.)

I was assigned the role of Camp Photographer, which struck the match on my reputation as the “Shepherd’s Cove Paparazzi.” I was nervous. I was terrified to get all up in these grieving kids’ faces and capture some potentially vulnerable moments. Of course, I knew that some kids are just natural camera hams. (I will always be eternally grateful to those kids.) Still, you also go into Camp HOPE just kind of knowing that you are going to see some really emotionally raw moments. That scared me, and it made me feel vulnerable.

God, though, has this way of molding that vulnerability and turning it into something bigger.

As the day went on and I became more acclimated to snapping shots and asking people to pose, I really started to see the magic happen. You see kids painting on rocks, but it’s not until you see what they’re painting that you see the wheels turning. Girls and boys painting things that reminded them of their loved one, some even painting the name of their loved one. At this point, my “get the shot” disposition became more like that of a researcher. It was a true fascination with how our activities can really help people. I documented the steps, the processes and God was guiding my lens the entire time.

I watched teenagers open up and express themselves in ways that they would not have had another opportunity to do. On the final day of Camp HOPE, there was a boy who had just moved up in age group. He had lost his mom and was clearly upset from the moment he stepped off the bus. I got to watch him smile for the first time all day when he connected with a counselor. I got to watch him tackle the obstacles with ease. I watched him laugh and play. Then I watched him cry. I watched him hold onto the balloon representing his mother, refusing to let it go. I watched an equine counselor comfort him, someone who mirrored him…someone who lost her son. I watched these teens rally around this little boy. I watched them whisper their own stories to him. I watched him let go of his balloon.

I was beyond blessed to be Camp Photographer. I captured smiles. I captured moments. I captured hope.

Making wishes come true

Most people have made a wish, but the wish of a someone with a terminal illness is significant because it could be their last.
The Shepherd’s Cove Foundation supports Shepherd’s Cove Hospice and the Palliative and Supportive Care Alliance (PSCA). Both organizations provide comfort care for patients with a terminal illness, focusing on adding as much life to their final days as possible. One way is by helping patients fulfill final wishes.

A special trip

As Danetta Valenzuela, a patient of the Palliative and Supportive Care Alliance, faces the realities of renal failure, she wants her children to know there is more to life than sickness. She wanted to make some positive, lasting memories with her family on a weekend adventure to Chattanooga, Tenn. The Shepherd’s Cove Foundation launched an online campaign in April to raise money for the trip. Through the support of 15 generous, local donors and numerous others who shared Danetta’s story, we reached our goal! Because of the outpouring of community support, Danetta’s wish became reality.


A gift from the Tide
The smile on LaMont Combs’ face was priceless as he turned the football over in his hands to see a personalized autograph from legendary football coach Nick Saban.
LaMont is one of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s biggest fans and a patient of Shepherd’s Cove Hospice. On June 27, he received a special gift from SCH and the Dream Foundation – a special box containing several goodies including the football and a photo autographed by Saban. He also recieved a personal phone call from the Tide’s starting center Brad Bozeman.

You can be a ray of light and hope to someone facing the realities of a terminal illness. Visit our homepage or call 256-891-7724 to find out how you can partner with the Shepherd’s Cove Foundation to fulfill a patient’s last wish.

Check out the rest of our newsletter below to learn more about what is happening at Shepherd’s Cove Hospice and how you can join our mission “to provide, with a servant’s heart, exceptional individualized care for those coping with end-of-life issues.”

Summer 2017 Newsletter