Good Samaritan Society Hosts Living Legacy Celebration
Lakewood Evangelical Church in Baxter was bustling Sunday afternoon with family and friends of Tina Leonard. A Living Legacy Celebration hosted by the Good Samaritan Society Hospice was underway to celebrate the life of Tina, who is suffering from Pancreatic Cancer.
“Instead of an end of life celebration after someone dies ,we do it before they die,” explained Amber Harris, Good Samaritan Society Hospice Administrator. “We do it, we invite their family and friends and we facilitate conversations like, ‘What are you going to miss most about me?’ What’s your favorite memory?’ So we’re doing this to help get closure for one thing, but it brings people together and they get to really enjoy one big shebang, celebration.”
This celebration was extra special due to a Lighthouse of Hope grant that was awarded to the hospice, allowing Tina’s sister and niece to be able to travel from Mississippi to attend the celebration.
“At hospice, we are able to access that fund and we did that in this particular situation and we were able to use that money, that grant money to go ahead and fly her sister and her niece to come out and spend time with her,” said Linda Bowman, the Social Work Supervisor with the Good Samaritan Society.
The Lighthouse of Hope Fund aims to grant end of life requests, such as visiting a long-lost family member, returning to a favorite place, or a simple dream such as a date night with a spouse, to those living with life-limiting illnesses.
“It means the world to us. To be able to tell her how we feel and spend time with her and just, you know, everything means the world,” said Tina Leonard’s sister, Tressa Acres.
These Living Legacy celebrations do more than just allow for people to say goodbye: they are a way to celebrate a life well lived alongside the person of honor.
“Hospice has a stigma of just death, but we try to make sure that everyday counts. So this is just one example of one of those things that we get to do,” Harris added.
“We often find that peace comes from having those kinds of conversations with family and friends,” said Bowman.
For Tina, the Living Legacy was a great opportunity to reach out to her loved ones and to get everyone together for a final celebration.
“Well, for me personally, it was a chance to reach out to all of my family and friends and to express to them how much I love them and how much I appreciate everything they’ve stepped up and done for my husband and I,” said Tina Leonard.
For more information on the Lighthouse of Hope fund that brought Tina and her sister together for the first time in eleven years, visit nationalhospicefoundation.org.