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Volunteers Bame, Gerson Honored at 2017 Hospice of the Calumet Area "Mums the Word" Luncheon

The Hospice of the Calumet Area hosts a number of events every year, from bike rides to cookie walks, and all of them support their mission to “cherish life.” Mum’s the Word is one of their largest events of the year and it’s anything but the quiet, secretive event the name implies.

Instead, it’s a loud and proud celebration of the Hospice’s incredible volunteer fundraisers, the Friends of Hospice.

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The luncheon, hosted at the Avalon Manor, included boutique shopping through stalls filled with art, jewelry, clothes and more created by the Hospice Artisans, volunteers who donate the proceeds from their sales to the Hospice of the Calumet Area. The ladies and gentlemen of the Friends of Hospice take time to reflect on their work, which makes it possible for the Hospice to take care of all their patients, including those with the inability to pay.

“It’s a celebration of our folks,” said Damian Rico, Community Relations and Marketing Director. “We’ve got a lot of people who put a lot of dedication into the Hospice of the Calumet Area. They accumulated 12,997 hours and $306,000 in financial savings last year. Those are big numbers, and it’s all because these people put the effort in.”

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The Friends of Hospice nominate their fellow volunteers to be special honorees at Mum’s, and then vote on those nominees. The top two vote getters are then recognized at the luncheon for their spectacular dedication to the cause they all support so vigorously. This year, Howard Bame (the first male honoree in the event’s history) and Francie Gerson took center stage.

Gerson is a key member of the Hospice Artisans, and witnessed them grow from an informal group of dedicated artists to an incredibly successful fundraising branch. Bame on the other hand, first got involved after seeing his wife’s work with the Friends and Artisans. He now spends upwards of 60 hours a month creating art for the Hospice of the Calumet Area.

“We average now $70,000 to $75,000 a year,” said Gerson. “Everything we do, everything we make, every penny goes to the Hospice. What the Hospice does not only for the patient, but for their families, is help them understand dying with dignity. This goes from children all the way up to elderly adults.”

The Hospice of the Calumet Area touches so many lives that almost every volunteer has a story to share. They flock to the organization and constantly surprise Volunteer Coordinator, Cynthia Camp. They see or experience the deeply personal work that the Hospice of the Calumet Area does and then seek to involve themselves.

“The work that we do is so inspiring,” said Camp. “All of us are touched by death, our families, our neighbors, or friends. We know that this very difficult, stressful time and that you can use help, so the work draws people in. We have a saying in hospice that ‘hospice workers are not hired, they’re called,’ and it’s true. In the 24 years that I’ve been here, I’ve never really had to recruit volunteers in any big way, they come to us.”

It’s that calling that makes the Friends of Hospice, hospice staff, and other volunteers so compassionate and driven to support the Hospice of the Calumet Area.

To learn more about the Hospice of the Calumet Area, visit

Hospice of the Calumet Area
Munster, IN 46321
Visit Hospice of the Calumet Area Partner Profile

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