Rice Hospice Volunteer Kathy Strom Receives Award

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IMG_8684_rev2WILLMAR, Minn. (January 2013) – Kathy Strom of Willmar and her dog, Lady, have won a “Caregiver Moments” award from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Kathy and Lady are volunteers with Rice Hospice’s pet therapy program – Canine Care for the Journey. The contest was held during National Family Caregivers Month in November. Caregivers were invited to share a personal story about being a caregiver and to submit them to Thrivent for consideration. Over a hundred people across the nation shared their stories, and in December, Kathy Strom was notified that her story was a winner.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Kathy said. “They told me my story had won a prize.”

The eleven winners of the “Caregiver Moments” contest each received a $100 gift card as a prize.   Winning entries came from all across the country, and will soon be posted on Thrivent.com/moments.

“Thrivent partners with individuals and families through all stages of life,” said Linda Maas, Program Development Manager for Thrivent in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Honoring those who generously give of their time to serve others is something we’re pleased to do. We were touched by Kathy’s story about her dog Lady, and how she had connected with one of her hospice patients. It was a very moving story.”

In her letter, Kathy described how she and Lady, a pet therapy dog for Rice Hospice, were on a weekly visit to see one of their patients. The client instructed Kathy to go work on a puzzle while she and Lady had a talk. She said she had some personal things to discuss with Lady that only the dog would understand.

While Kathy worked on the puzzle, Lady hopped up onto the bed and listened. Their client petted Lady and told her that she was ready to go. She talked about her funeral, what songs she wanted, and what Bible verses she would like read. After a while, Kathy looked up from her puzzle and realized their client had stopped talking. She had passed on.

“I was so happy we were able to be there to hear her final wishes,” Kathy said. “Lady showed her unconditional love, right to the end.”

About Canine Care for the Journey

Canine Care for the Journey is a pet therapy program from Rice Hospice which provides comfort, support and animal companionship to hospice patients and their families. All dogs accepted into the program are American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens and are registered with Therapy Dogs, Incorporated. Therapy dog handlers are Rice Hospice-trained volunteers. Training takes place twice per year; once in the spring, and once in the fall. More information is available at RiceHospice.com.

About Rice Hospice

Rice Hospice has been providing compassionate, end-of-life care to residents of West Central Minnesota for over 30 years. A service of Rice Memorial Hospital, Rice Hospice has offices in Willmar, Appleton, Benson, Dawson, Granite Falls, Montevideo, Ortonville, and Paynesville.

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