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Blog: Stories and Insight

Caring For The DeFilippo’s

Luke DeFilippo watching Music Therapist Charity JonesThe DeFilippo family’s home sits on a tree-lined street in a South Jersey town known for its warmth and friendliness. The same can be said for the DeFilippos themselves. They welcome caregivers as friends, and the atmosphere inside their home is instantly one of comfort and kindness. 

Laura DeFilippo ushers us down the hall, through the kitchen, and into the family room, where her husband, Rick, sits beside their son, Luke. Luke watches closely as Charity Jones, one of Samaritan’s music therapists, unpacks her guitar. Charity – and the rest of Luke’s Samaritan care team – has been caring for Luke since he entered hospice care two years earlier.  

Luke has survived twenty years with an inoperable brain tumor that left him developmentally delayed. Now 22, Luke was diagnosed in late 2021 with ATRT, a rare terminal cancer, in his kidneys. He has been in Samaritan’s care ever since. “He’s a little grumpy this morning,” Laura says, but the sight of Charity’s guitar captures Luke’s attention. As she sings to him, his features soften, and Luke studies Charity with visible affection and joy in his eyes. 

Samaritan Cares For the Whole Family

Rick, Laura, and Luke watching Music Therapist CharityWhen asked what the time on Samaritan’s hospice care has meant to her family, Laura replies, “It’s been invaluable as far as walking us through the process of dying and being able to talk about it. We are blessed by a lot of people in our lives who are open to listening about what we’re going through, but it is nice to have people who know what we’re going through, and I’m very thankful for that.” 

Between songs, Charity reaches for something extra she’s brought with her today – a drum for Rick. For although Luke is Samaritan’s patient, Rick has been journeying through a diagnosis of his own – early onset dementia. Charity encourages Rick to join her in today’s session, and his face lights up. His drum strokes are at first tentative, then more confident, and together, Charity and Rick sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, gentle notes filling the room, Luke’s attention rapt. When they finish, Luke lets loose with a loud, “whoo!” of joy. 

“I’m going to treasure this for my whole life. It’s always going to be in my heart,” Laura says, as she talks about the family’s visits from Samaritan’s care team. She looks at Charity and smiles. “I don’t know if you know the specialness you have in our hearts, but it’s going to be there forever.” 

At Samaritan, we are privileged to provide care for patients and their families. Our mission is to help them live their best lives every day, and team members like Charity Jones make that possible with their exceptional care and extraordinary compassion. 

When Laura asks Charity if her work ever takes a toll on her heart, Charity shakes her head, explaining that caring for Samaritan patients and their loved ones allows her to be part of lives she would never have known about otherwise, sharing simply, “The connection is a gift.”