Hospice of Santa Barbara

By Steven Libowitz   |   June 18, 2024
Multi Generation Family Giving Children Piggybacks Outdoors

When Hospice of Santa Barbara officially opened its doors back in 1974, only one other hospice organization existed in the entire United States, making HSB just the country’s second nonprofit that focused on the nonmedical care, comfort and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life. Now, as HSB is marking its 50th anniversary of meeting the needs of people and families struggling with life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one, the nonprofit is launching its Legacy of Compassion Campaign, an effort at both much-needed fundraising and increasing awareness of its services to the community. 

Hospice offers a vast array of services that are all provided free of charge to literally thousands of local children, families, and seniors. Patient Care Services provides wraparound care and support to individuals and families when they receive the terrible news of a life-threatening diagnosis, with HSB’s caring team of staff and volunteers helping families navigate the medical system, provide emotional support and offer practical solutions to real world challenges facing patients and families. Hospice’s Adult Bereavement Services provide caring support to many seniors and other adults who have lost spouses, friends or, tragically, even children. And HSB’s Children’s Bereavement Services work closely with 17 local schools to provide compassionate counseling to children struggling through the loss of a parent, grandparent, or friend. 

I can always help you honey

“Even as we celebrate that history of serving so many thousands of families, we know that there are lots of people who don’t even know who we are, let alone what it is we do,” said Charles Caldwell, HSB’s Director of Strategic Advancement. “So we’re utilizing this 50th anniversary year as an opportunity to increase awareness, and make sure that new people know that we’re here when you need us.”

On the other hand, the increased attention of Hospice through the organization’s expanded services during the Thomas Fire, Montecito debris flow and Covid pandemic crises, has actually put a strain on its ability to fulfill its mission and “Promise”: To care for anyone experiencing the impact of serious illness or grieving the death of a loved one.

“A lot of people also don’t know that everything we do is provided at no cost, and we’re supported completely by the community,” Caldwell said. “So one of the challenges that has come up as we’ve developed, and we don’t really trumpet this, is that we now have a waitlist for our bereavement services for adults … When people are in grief, and by the time they reach out, they really need help right away because that’s when they’re vulnerable but ready for help. So for us to get a referral for help when we are at capacity is very frustrating for everyone.” 

Even more challenging is the anticipated increase in demand for HSB’s services as the aging of the population soars in the so-called Silver Tsunami, Caldwell explained. 

“We are expecting a massive growth in the senior population, as projections are that the numbers of people who are 65 and older are going to be basically doubling in the next 15 to 20 years, and triple for those over 85. On top of that, there’s the rise in mental health challenges impacting our youth, and often there’s a grief incident that’s at the bottom of those struggles that never got addressed. So we’re expecting and have experienced the demand for those services to keep on growing faster than we can grow to meet it. On top of that, the medical world has grown so complex that helping its clients understand the diagnoses and navigate options has also become more complicated.” 

Which is where the Legacy of Compassion Campaign comes in. 

The $1 million effort is one HSB hopes to achieve through both its annual Heroes of Hospice gala slated for September 15 at the Rosewood Miramar Beach and by increased private and foundation donations. The campaign is aimed at addressing concerns both occurring today and anticipated in days ahead. 

“The idea is to increase our resources so that we can better meet current demands as well as build a foundation towards the future,” Caldwell said. “There’s going to be a lot more demand for our services and we need to start now so we can be prepared.”

The funds are also earmarked for launching or improving initiatives from HSB that include working with the juvenile justice system to help youth who have unprocessed grief at the root of their issues, increased bereavement counseling for firefighters to help cope with the complicated trauma and grief that many of them experience, and amping up the No One Dies Alone program, which focuses on providing volunteers at the bedsides of those who are dying who may not have friends or family to be with them. 

A comparatively modest $1 million goal isn’t going to provide complete solutions to surfing the Silver Tsunami or handling unanticipated needs, Caldwell admitted, but it will better help HSB address the changing landscape. 

“It’s not going to take care of all those future needs in one fell swoop, but it can serve as a building block to continue to grow upon and increase capacity as well as, frankly, to continue to share the story with the community about what’s coming down the pipeline.”  

Visit www.hospiceofsb.org for more information or to make a donation


You might also be interested in...