Why I’m Making a Bequest to Kansas City Hospice

By: Marie Marley, KCH Volunteer
Published:  April 11, 2023

Why did I decide to leave part of my estate to Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (KCH)? Well, I’ll tell you why. My journey to that decision all started in 2007 with Ed Theodoru (my Romanian soulmate of 30 years), his Alzheimer’s disease, and the hospice care he received at the end of his life in Cincinnati, where we lived at the time. Little did I know that Alzheimer’s and hospice were going to play major roles in my life after Ed’s passing and my subsequent move to Kansas City.

My path to Kansas City Hospice was not a straight one, however. First, I detoured into the world of Alzheimer’s as a volunteer at a local memory care facility. I spent time there every Tuesday afternoon with patients who had few visitors. Some even had no visitors. That’s where I got my first taste of the joys of volunteering to visit with people who have a special need for companionship. 

A few years later, a serious illness led me to begin thinking about my own mortality. As I grappled to come to terms with my eventual death, I began wondering if volunteering to visit hospice patients might help not only them, but also me.

At first, the idea seemed preposterous. It would certainly be depressing, I thought. Depressing to spend time with people facing certain and imminent death. No. I wouldn’t do it. I’d had multiple losses in the preceding two years and didn’t need any more sadness in my life.

But the idea kept coming back strongly at the oddest moments. And so, eventually, and with a certain trepidation, I called Kansas City Hospice, told them about my experience visiting Alzheimer’s patients, and asked to become a volunteer visitor.

I could tell you so many heartwarming stories about the patients I’ve seen. And no. It hasn’t been depressing. On the contrary. Although it can be sad at times, it’s always rewarding. I often feel warm inside all the way home after seeing them. It was because of the opportunity to do this meaningful work that I first began thinking about including Kansas City Hospice in my will. Initially, it was just a passing thought, but the longer I continued volunteering, the more often the idea came to mind. But I wasn’t ready yet.

I soon found there was another role in the organization I could volunteer for – while still making my patient visits. I’d been a grant writer all my professional life and so I spent some time helping out Caryn Hohnholt with funding requests to foundations.

While I was working with the grants, I learned a lot about Kansas City Hospice – the kind of information typically needed for the background section of applications. One thing I learned really stood out in my mind. In addition to its work with hospice patients, there is a program called Passages that provides mental health services to the community at large, regardless of whether people are involved with the organization in any other way. I thought that was a generous benefit to offer the Greater Kansas City area.

After a year or so of volunteering, I unexpectedly found myself in need of mental health support. In my quest to find a good therapist, I spent hours doing research. All roads kept leading back to the same therapist at Passages – Jacque Amweg, now Passages Program Coordinator. I did identify two other possible candidates, and I made appointments to meet with all three before determining to whom I’d entrust my psychological needs.

But after the first 20 minutes of talking with Jacque, I knew she was the right therapist for me. Even though I hadn’t yet met my third prospect, I made the decision on the spot to select Jacque. It has turned out to be a good decision; I have been helped immeasurably by this highly-skilled and tranquil, gentle therapist.

Shortly thereafter “the envelope” arrived in the Luminary community newsletter. Included was a request to contact the development office for information about including Kansas City Hospice in your estate planning. That invitation inspired me and sealed the deal. I called my attorney and arranged for the bequest as a tribute to Jacque and in loving memory of Ed.

So, in a nutshell, I made my decision because of what Kansas City Hospice has done for me personally through Jacque and the Passages Program, and because the organization gives me something meaningful to do for others. It allows me to provide companionship and, hopefully, even a touch of joy, to so many wonderful people living their final days.

Marie Marley, KCH Volunteer and award-winning author.

I hope my gift, when combined with those of many others, will help ensure that Kansas City Hospice continues achieving its mission after I’m no longer here. And that mission is a big one they take very seriously: To bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance and hope to people who are affected by serious illness or by grief. 

Interested in learning more about how to make a bequest to Kansas City Hospice?
With National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, 2023 this is a good time to also review and update your will to ensure it reflects the current status of your estate and your desire to help others. 

In simple terms, a bequest is a gift that is left to a person or organization in an individual’s will or trust. There are many benefits of making a bequest including leaving a lasting legacy to be remembered, lessening the burden of taxes on your family, and the possibility of receiving estate tax savings. A bequest is one of the easiest gifts to make. You can include language in your will or trust, specifying a gift be made to family, friends or Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care as part of your estate plan. For more information about how to make a bequest please visit the Kansas City Hospice website

Marie Marley is a Kansas City Hospice volunteer and author of the award-winning book, “Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy.” ComeBackEarlyToday.com

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