VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice honors community partners at annual breakfast

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Jo Ann Begley, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice President & CEO Janine Fay, Hospice volunteer Kathleen Bonvicini, Florence Griswold Museum Executive Director Rebekah Beaulieu and Florence Griswold Museum Director of Marketing Tammi Flynn.

 

When Kathleen Bonvicini lost her brother to cancer, she found a way to channel her grief and love for him into helping others.

“I saw how hospice helped my brother and I knew I would be a hospice volunteer one day,” Bonvicini told the crowd of more than 130 people gathered at The Woodwinds in Branford Tuesday, May 7 for VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s annual Breakfast in Bloom fundraiser.

Guilford Savings Bank and Smith Brothers Financial were the platinum sponsors of the event.

Bonvicini was one of three Community Partner Award recipients, along with the Florence Griswold Museum and VNACHCH’s own Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Jo Ann Begley.

“You’re thanking me, but I should be thanking all of you for allowing me to do this work,” Bonvicini said during her award acceptance speech.

An active philanthropist and community advocate, Kathleen is the Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Healthcare Communication.

“Kathleen is committed to giving and making our world a better place. With a full time career that involves travel and volunteering in other parts of the world, she still makes time to help our patients and their families. And, often uses her work day lunch break to do it,” explained Begley.

She noted one instance when a family of a hospice patient was struggling, and so Kathleen responded to a last minute request to sit with the patient and hold her hand into the night, allowing social work and spiritual care to focus support on the family.

She met with a patient weekly for meditation sessions, always bringing him his favorite ice cream, and helped a patient finish writing a book and submit it for publishing before he died, which was his wish.

“She embodies the true spirit and the intent of our hospice program, which is to help
individuals make the most of the time they have left,” Begley said.

The Florence Griswold Museum, located in Old Lyme, was recognized this year for collaborating with VNACHCH in support of its mission.

A nonprofit itself, museum officials graciously offered the site and its collections as the structural backbone for the agency’s annual report, which featured an artistic theme – one that was carried through to the event.

The museum and 12-acre site is known as the home of American Impressionism. It served as the birthplace of the Lyme Art Colony that flourished at the site in the early 1900s as artists from up and down the seaboard flocked there to paint the scenery.

VNACHCH brought caregivers, volunteers and staff members who provided testimonials for its 2018 annual report to the museum to select artwork that spoke to them of their idea of a life well lived. Images of them standing alongside their chosen pieces were used to highlight their thoughts in the report of how the agency has made a difference in their lives.

Florence Griswold Museum Director Rebekah Beaulieu and Director of Marketing Tammi Flynn attended the breakfast to accept the award.

Begley’s recognition was a surprise to her and the entire crowd at the event.

Like Bonvicini, she expressed gratitude to the people in the room for supporting VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice and allowing her to do the work she is dedicated to on behalf of patients and families.

VNACHCH President & CEO Janine Fay praised Begley for her efforts to help caregivers on their loved one’s healthcare journey so entire families can achieve their best quality of life.

“When we talk about community partners, we often mean members of the community who support our mission to be beside patients at every turn. This year, however, we also felt it important to recognize a member of our staff who serves as one of our links to the community itself and who has touched the lives of so many people in our service area,” Fay said. “She works tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of others and empowers our proud and gentle army of volunteers to go out into our patients’ homes and provide them with care and compassion to help them find comfort and joy through the difficult moments.”

Begley will celebrate 15 years with the agency this summer, and Fay noted that so many of the success stories shared by grateful patients and caregivers include Begley in the narrative.

“In a quiet and thoughtful way, she graciously tackles every need that comes across her desk and she devotes herself to ensuring every patient and caregiver receives every possible resource and service available, every time,” Fay said.

The breakfast included instrumental music by the group Giving Bach of Daniel Hand High School in Madison and a visit from one of VNACHCH’s therapy dogs.

All proceeds from the event will support the nonprofit agency’s vital services, including home healthcare, community wellness programs and its Family Caregiver Support Network.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency with expertly trained staff who help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.