Thursday, March 6, 2014

Little Hands with a Big Heart

HSCC Neeblet Little Hands with a Big Heart
Good things certainly do come in small packages and that is true of little Nitzana Cohen.

Nitzana (calls herself Neeblet), is a four year old Santa Cruz resident that has the heart and compassion of someone ten times her age.  Recently Nitzana came to Hospice of Santa Cruz County’s Mary and Richard Solari Center for Compassionate Care in Scotts Valley with a personal donation of $13.10 to help comfort hospice patients. Her donation was accompanied by a small selection of toiletries that she personally purchased for a patient in need of comfort and love.

Nitzana’s “giving passion” was instilled in her and her siblings by parents Myriam and Mike Cohen.  Mike Cohen told us that during the year, his three daughters Hadassah, Nitzana and Ziva contribute money that is earned, found or gifted to them as a way to give back to the community.  Mom, Myriam tells us that the discussion of who the recipients will be at the end of the year is a very serious and involved process.  The girls are educated about the different non-profit organizations that offer services that better the community such as feeding the hungry, caring for the dying, and housing stray animals.

The Cohens believe that pre-school children have much time to learn the art of giving back to the community and they have found that it is difficult to find activities that pre-school children can participate in to encourage the principle of giving.  The Cohens have created opportunities for the girls to experience the joy of giving by reaching out to neighbors in need and offering time to Alzheimer patients that enjoy a conversation with a loving child. Family field trips are also encouraged to the local animal shelter where the girls bring clean blankets for the animals.

Little Nitzana was probably expecting to meet a patient when she visited our administrative offices not realizing we care for patients in their homes and residential facilities.  When the Hospice receptionist witnessed Nitzana’s giving heart, she and her family were invited to view a memorial table that honors patients who have passed.  As the family looked at the newspaper clippings and memorial candles honoring loved ones, Nitzana’s older sister, Hadassah, recognized a member of the community who had died and then it all became real and personal to the girls. In that moment little Nitzana’s special donation became a very meaningful and satisfying experience for a child with a big heart.

Thank you Cohen family for reminding us of the importance and joy of giving back! And thank you Nitzana for a very big life lesson taught by a very little girl!    

Monday, March 3, 2014

Remembering Bobbie Bihn

Longtime and beloved Hospice of Santa Cruz County volunteer, Bobbie Bihn died on February 28, 2014. In her 34 years of volunteer service, Bobbie remained a calm, gentle presence and support for grieving community members and hospice families.

We had many opportunities to honor Bobbie for her compassionate work.  A few years ago, we sat down with her and she shared how she came to hospice volunteering.  Here is her story of a life well lived:

Bobbie’s interest in hospice began when she attended the Death and Dying class at Cabrillo College in the late 1970’s. Bobbie was drawn in when one of her classmates told the story of how her grandmother died at home with the support of hospice. She had never heard of hospice before, but felt the need to learn more. So in 1980, when Hospice of Santa Cruz County was just two years old, Bobbie signed up as a volunteer and began answering the phones. “People would call and it was an honor to help them,” Bobbie remembers. Four years later, she attended the first grief support training offered by Hospice and found her niche.

Bobbie facilitated a weekly drop-in grief support group open to anyone in our community who has experience the loss of a loved one. “As a facilitator of the group, the most important thing I do is give participants space. It’s always fascinating to me how people interact with each other. There’s a thread that runs through each of us – a common bond that has brought people together. I don’t try to make them feel better – I can’t. I can only create the space where they can share their grief and know that others understand,” Bobbie says.

Many come reluctantly, Bobbie shares. “But, at the end of the session, they see they are with others who understand, and I invite them to join one of the upcoming 8-week groups. Almost all of them join a group. And, the healing begins.”

Bobbie shared that she felt privileged to be a part of the healing journey and acknowledged how much her volunteering had enriched her own life. “I am always happy to go… each week….I always look forward to it.”

Bobbie Bihn will be remembered for the many gifts of kindness, humor, and compassion that she shared with our community.  She lived from her heart and we all were the recipients of that loving kindness.