70 over 70 in 2020

By Lane Foster, Volunteer Coordinator at Kansas City Hospice

We have amazing volunteers of all ages. This year, in its third annual 70 Over 70 Awards, the KC Shepherd’s Center honored two Kansas City Hospice volunteers for their impressive and extensive volunteer service. The virtual ceremony was held on Wednesday, November 11. It featured special messages from celebrities such as Frankie Avalon, Morgan Fairchild, Richard Thomas, and former Chiefs player Ted McKnight.

The 70 Over 70 Awards

70 Over 70 Honorees reflect the diverse interests, accomplishments and lifestyles of older adults who live in greater Kansas City. It celebrates these adults who have made significant contributions and achievements in their respective endeavors, be they community leaders and builders, business owners, entrepreneurs, volunteers, environmentalists, arts & cultural leaders; that have made and are making a difference.

Kate Buster, 79, Unconditional

Everyone has been stressed by the 2020 COVID pandemic … concern for the health of ourselves, family and friends…guilt because loved ones died alone…shock of an unexpected death.  Now imagine volunteering to help families cope with death during these trying times. That is exactly what Kate volunteers to do with the Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care’s Grief Support Team. As a telephone counselor, she consistently stays in contact with members of a grieving family for 13 months. Is it a depressing job? Kate says “No! It’s actually very rewarding.”

The families she works with inspire her as they strive to do their best, to love each other and to understand that their thoughts and behaviors are “normal.” While the families may feel that she is a gift to them through difficult times, she feels they are a gift to her. It fills her heart when she hears hope in their voices and when tears and laughter begin to intertwine as families focus on positive memories. 

Being a hospice social worker before retirement prepared Kate for this work, but she also says it would be hard to do without the great appreciation she feels from other members of the Grief Support Team. They say she is “thoughtful, attentive, empathetic, genuine, witty and purposeful.” She says they keep her focused on the positives and won’t allow her to be worn down. The pleasures of art, reading, writing and family also fill her time.

Mary Denise Wagner, 71, Selfless

Mary Denise is a lifelong learner. She is a professional educator, a youth mentor and a volunteer at Kansas City Hospice.  Her smile is as bright as her spirit! Mary Denise donates her time at Solace House and their grief support camps. At camp, she embraces the role of registration volunteer to ensure administrative needs are met to have a successful camp weekend. Her familiar, friendly face provides the perfect welcome for the campers!

Pre-COVID, Mary Denise volunteered at the front desk of the hospice house several times a month.  She is a warm and wonderful greeter and is able to strike the right note to put visitors at ease.

Mary Denise is a pillar volunteer during the holiday season. When Santa comes to visit the hospice house, she makes herself available to assist and organize crafts for the visiting children as well as the coordination of fresh baked cookies for participants to decorate.

When the pandemic first started, Mary Denise stepped in to handwrite a letter to all Solace House participants. She connected with them on a personal level during this time of isolation. Mary Denise is always quick to assist with take-home administrative projects.

Mary Denise is also a go to person in her neighborhood. She is a dog walker and people mover, taking neighbors to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, anything they need that she can help with. She is beyond willing to take the time to help them out.

Interested in volunteering? Give us a call at 816.363.2600 and we’ll help you find a volunteer opportunity that is right for you!

About Us

The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. Our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

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