Samaritan Board Chair Shares Poignant Story About South Jersey Hospice Care

Speech given by Board Chair John Gillespie at Samaritan's annual staff and volunteer recognition lunch

John GillespieGood afternoon.  I asked Mary Ann [Boccolini] for a few minutes again this year, to allow me, on behalf of the board members, to say “THANK YOU.”  I would like you to introduce you to my fellow Board Members who are here today:  Nandini Natrajan, Rhonda Cates, Sarah Adelman, and Jewelle Sutherland.

                Last year, I shared with you the story about my father’s passing almost nine years ago (read it here), and his response to the Samaritan hospice admissions nurse who came to the hospital, introduced herself to him, and began to explain why she was there.  I told you that my father interrupted her and said “Stop.  I know why you’re here.  You took care of my wife five years ago and you’re going to take care of me now.  How do we get started?”  I’d like to share another story with you of more recent vintage about friends of mine whose mother reached a point where the Samaritan difference so positively impacted their situation. 

Last April, I received a text from a friend of mine, Jose Sosa, after we had referred him to the Samaritan Hospice Team to care for his mother-in-law.  Samaritan years earlier had cared for his father. Jose texted me and said:

“The Team of people who have been here (2 are here now) are incredible, kind, professional, thorough.  Ruth (his wife) is emotionally and physically spent; they saw it, taking her mother to five- day respite care.  Tell your CEO how wonderful her Team is…” 

A month later Jose texted me:

“Ruth’s mother passed away this week.  Ruth did all she could to give her the perfect peaceful end.  The Samaritan Team was sent from God to help her.  We are in their debt.” 

In early June, Ruth sent me a note, and wrote:

“Before Samaritan came onboard, I was overwhelmed with Mom’s care, and thought that I wouldn’t be able to deliver on a wish and promise I had made known to her decades ago.  I wanted her home with us at the end of her life.


Samaritan made that possible and I will always be grateful to you and them for that.


I have since followed up with ‘my team’ to personally thank them for the love and support they gave to my mother, Jose, and me in what was a difficult time. 

However, my feelings about end of life and death have changed due to all I learned from your staff.  Most of the comfort I have now is because of that.  I told them that when Mom’s eyes closed, mine were opened.  With love and appreciation,  Ruth.”

That story, and those heart-felt thoughts, are meant for all of you.  The folks who helped my parents, who helped Ruth’s mother and Jose’s father, and who helped Ruth and Jose, are representative of the entire Samaritan community.  Whether you a hospice care team member : a physician, a nurse, a social worker, a spiritual support or grief counselor, a home health aide, a music or massage therapist …Whether you serve in the administrative office departments or in the field, or you are one of Samaritan’s more than 450 volunteers, we are all Samaritan.  And everyone here deserves the same kind of praise and thanks that Jose and Ruth communicated in these notes that I just read to you.

On behalf of the Board, I just want to tell you how privileged we are to be part of what it is you all do every day.  We are grateful for your service and for the opportunity to support you; and we will do whatever we can to advance Samaritan’s hospice mission

On behalf of the Board, thank you again so much.   

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