Valley hospice hoping to preserve patients' stories

FRESNO, Calif.

It was founded in a home in Fresno in 1981, but today it includes in-home care as well for end of life patients

Annually some 150 such patients and their families are assisted by staff and volunteers like Linda Connelly. Her father, Simon Connelly, benefited from that care.

He often shared stories of his life they were lost when he died..

"Dad ended up with dementia the last several months and he couldn't remember much of anything. It is loss. And I wish would have been able to preserve them," Connelly said.

Hinds Hospice Development Coordinator Jill McCarthy recently discovered a way to enhance that assistance: offering a way to capture the rich life stories of their patients.

"When I heard about this and here where here was an opportunity for those families to have that story to be preserved for them to pass down within their own family," McCarthy said.

She came in contact with Storycorps, an online service created for that very reason.

Storycorps was so taken by the Hinds Hospice focus it offered a grant for three months to record conversations with Hinds Hospice patients.

"The mission of our program, Storycorps, is to record, preserve and share the stories of everyday Americans across the country. Our program works specifically with organizations that support people with life-threatening conditions," Storycorps' Perri Chinalai said.

The wheels are already turning on how they might keep this idea going at Hinds Hospice when the 3 months are up.

The gift of a life history is after all a tangible gift of a life lived - one that can continue to be part of that family and to pass it on.

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