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Keeping the fun in fundraising

<p>Attendees of the North Hawaii Hospice “Off to the Races” had a chance to wear fancy clothes and hats at Pukalani Stables on May 4. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)</p>

Attendees of the North Hawaii Hospice “Off to the Races” had a chance to wear fancy clothes and hats at Pukalani Stables on May 4. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)

<p>Each table was decorated by a different host at the “Off to the Races” event. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)</p>

Each table was decorated by a different host at the “Off to the Races” event. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)

<p>“Off to the Races” was a fundraising event for North Hawaii Hospice. The gr0up serves those without insurance through donations. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)</p>

“Off to the Races” was a fundraising event for North Hawaii Hospice. The gr0up serves those without insurance through donations. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)

<p>“Off to the Races” raised almost $30,000 for North Hawaii Hospice. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)</p>

“Off to the Races” raised almost $30,000 for North Hawaii Hospice. (COURTESY PHOTO BY JAISY JARDINE FOR NHN)

Big hats and bold colors were part of the special fashion tradition of the Kentucky Derby horse race on display at the recent Derby Day fundraising event in support of North Hawaii Hospice at Pukalani Stables. The 210 attendees at the event sipped mint juleps and enjoyed a luncheon prepared and donated by the Fairmont Orchid, served at tables individually decorated by Hospice volunteers.

The fun also included prizes for “Best Ladies Hat” and “Most Dapper Man,” as well as a silent auction. Hospice expected to net about $30,000 from the event.

“It’s fun to play dress up, even when you’re an adult,” said Kari Waldhaus, sporting a wide-brimmed, floppy hat trimmed in flowers and a sleek spring dress. “I heard this was going to be a great event, and a lot of fun,” she said.

“Volunteers drive this whole organization,” said Julie Mattson, Hospice board member and volunteer. “All of us know someone who was served by Hospice, and we want to give back.”

North Hawaii Hospice is one of three hospices on the island, serving patients from Laupahoehoe to North Kohala to Waikoloa. The mission of hospice care is to provide support for terminally ill patients and their families, allowing them to experience comfort, dignity, and peace in their own homes as their approach the end of their lives.

“In the past few years, we have doubled the number of patients we serve, and doubled the size of our staff,” said Katherine Ciano, Hospice executive director. North Hawaii Hospice now serves over 300 patients a year. “It’s catching on,” she said.

The financial side of Hospice is an ongoing challenge, said Ciano. About half of patients are covered by insurance, but the rest are supported by donations.

“We never ask for a dime from our patients,” she said.

“Volunteers are so important to what we do,” said Ciano. North Hawaii Hospice currently has about 90 volunteers, who provide assistance to families, help out at the office, and plan fundraising events like Derby Day.

It takes a special “hospice heart” to do this kind of work, she said. When she hires new staff, she looks for people with the correct emotional make-up who can work very independently. Hospice currently operates with a five-person administrative team and 11 clinical staff members, including nurses, aides, a social worker, and a counselor.

“Care is individually tailored to the family needs. We talk about each patient as a staff, and try to meet their needs and support the family. Each patient is different,” she said.

Plans for the future include construction of a new building for clinical staff as well as recruiting an ever larger corps of volunteers.

To find out more about North Hawaii Hospice, visit their website at northhawaiihospice.org, or call 885-7547.