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Stories help raise funds for new hospice care center in Yakima

As part of a three-year campaign to raise $5.3 million for the Cottage in the Meadow, a hospice care center, Mark Young has helped make many presentations sharing stories of families who would have benefited from having such a facility available for a family member.

The new facility at 1208 S. 48th Ave. in Yakima opens July 14.

Mark Young
Mark Young has served as development director for Cottage in the Meadow in Yakima.

Mark, who is development director for the Cottage in the Meadow Building Campaign, said he and 90 members of a volunteer support group toured five hospice homes in Washington—Vancouver, Kennewick, Kirkland, Bremerton and Spokane—to gather stories about features people find beneficial in their centers and what they would include if they were building their facilities again.

For 20 years, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital has provided an in-home hospice program, helping people with terminal illnesses stay in their own homes, at nursing homes, in homes of family members or in adult family homes.

The new 12-bed Cottage in the Meadow will serve people in Kittitas and Yakima counties, now served by Memorial Hospice and three other hospice programs—the Kittitas Valley Hospice in Ellensburg, the Lower Valley Hospice and Palliative Care in Sunnyside and the hospice at Yakima Regional Hospital

Area pastors and hospice chaplains are planning a blessing for the Cottage in the Meadow at 9 a.m., Thursday, July 12.  The community open house is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, July 14.

Mark also knows the power of stories in raising funds because of his mission work in Honduras.

He has taken two trips a year to Honduras to help children with disabilities and their families, and to work in local churches to help people change their attitudes about disabilities and poverty.

“I feel compassion for families at the end of life and for these ‘throwaway children,’” he said.

In the late 1970s, he was a nursing home administrator after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1972 and a master’s in public administration in 1973 at Pepperdine University, and completing five years of doctoral studies in gerontology at Montana State University.

“I have been around older people most of my life,” he said.

Mark served as a hospice volunteer for several years in Montana and Oregon.  He did higher education fund raising for 25 years—seven at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, seven years at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland and seven years at Montana Teachers College.  He also raised funds for a private school in California.

During those years, he worked with teens in church and took teens and adults on summer short-term mission trips.  He has worked with disabled children and their families through Little Hands Big Hearts mission in Honduras.

He and his wife, Brenda, a special education teacher, have five children and 12 grandchildren.  Both grew up in the Church of Christ and now attend Summitview Church of Christ in Yakima.  Their fifth child is a special needs child they adopted.

With his fund raising for hospice complete, Mark retires July 27.  He and his wife Brenda will begin travels from Aug. 30 to Oct. 30 to give presentations at 35 churches, colleges and schools in 25 states to raise funds for their work in Honduras.

They served there as missionaries from 2000 until 2006, when they came to Yakima to help their daughter care for her children.  Mark found the opportunity to work on the hospice campaign.  In November, Mark and Brenda will return to their work in Honduras for eight years.

The Church of Christ consists of independent congregations, so people in mission have to do their own fund raising.  Summit View, eight other churches and 34 families will be their base of support.

Given that many people are unaware of what hospice is or reasons a care center is needed, Mark described the project.

Hospice serves people expected to die of an illness in six months or less.  About five percent of those people need additional care that cannot be delivered in their home setting, he explained.  That care includes need for a feeding tube, for 24-7 pain care, for extra care in the last few days or for transitional care.  It also includes respite for the caregiver or a place to stay while waiting for a family member to come and provide care.

“The average stay will be about one week.  It’s a niche between home and acute care,” he said.

Mark said that he and volunteers on the Hospice Campaign Steering Committee have given presentations to churches, retirement groups, service organizations and even car clubs.  They share a video of hospice family stories. 

About 10 of the 23 volunteers on the Hospice Campaign Steering Committee have helped give presentations.The new 22,000-square-foot facility will have space that allows family members to be with the person in hospice.  There are 12 private rooms with private baths.  The rooms are large enough for up to 18 people to gather.

Participants in the feasibility study and the tour of other Washington hospice homes shared their ideas with architects.

Ideas they incorporated include a children’s playroom where children can have fun while their parents or grandparents visit. 

There’s a family dining room where families share a meal together.  Tables can be pushed together for family time around food or to discuss decisions as they face the inevitable, Mark said.

There is also a large living room with a fireplace where several families can spend time with no TV.

The whole building will be connected to wireless internet.

A family support room is a place the door can be closed to meet with a minister, funeral director or social worker.

If patients choose to wear their own clothing, rather than an open-back hospital gown, there’s a laundry room where family can wash the clothes.

Families can also sit outdoors and look over the meadow, take walks or have a barbeque.

“Family life can continue,” Mark said.

While the chapel is a place for families to go for prayer and meeting with spiritual leaders, it’s also a place for staff to go and share their caring for families, as well as to help them deal with the long hours they spend around death.

“We encourage churches to be involved,” Mark said.  “Ten churches are financially involved.  Twenty churches are involved in the Greater Yakima Faith Community’s support.  There are Native American, Jewish, Mormon, Protestant and Catholic congregations involved.

“At the end of life, some people have strong religious connections and some do not,” he said.  “Hospice looks at a person holistically—their physical, emotional and spiritual health—and involves the faith community in the spiritual side.”

The house will involve 42 volunteers, plus physical and occupational therapists, service providers, social workers, doctors and nurses.

Hospice chaplains from four different churches seek to assure sensitivity to the large Hispanic and Native American communities there.

There have been 1,800 community donors, with one family giving $1.5 million of the $5.3 million project.  About 350 gifts have been from family members who have had someone in hospice care.

For information, call 574-5794 email mark.young@memfound.org or visit yakimahospice.org.