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Creations Auction surpasses goal

By Staff | Apr 12, 2019

Submitted photo An auction attendee bids on an item at the Hospice Creations Auction held last Friday.

An annual tradition continued last Friday evening at the Rugby Eagles building when the Good Samaritan Health Services Foundation held their Hospice Creations Auction and dinner.

This year’s event drew rave reviews from organizers.

“It was a big success,” gushed Foundation Coordinator Cathy Jelsing. “It was really incredible.”

As her voice grew excited, she continued, “I have a feeling it’s the best we’ve ever had. I know we made our $23,000 goal. And we exceeded it by very much!”

A few hours later, Jelsing sent an email to the Tribune with the final fundraising total: “With just a few bills outstanding I can say we cleared about $30,400,” she wrote.

Jelsing said the title “Hospice Creations” comes from the event’s beginning as an auction of handmade items such as afghans, intended to give patients comfort in the end stages of their lives. The auction has been held every year for more than 20 years.

The list of donated items has grown over the decades.

“We had well over 100 donors this year,” Jelsing said.

Donations came from local businesses, hospital workers and individuals.

“We contacted some of the vendors that we use to provide services, especially if they were related to hospital,” Jelsing noted. “For example, Stat Staff is a company we hire contract nurses when we need to. So we contacted those companies, and four of them donated $500 each, so that’s $2000.”

Workers in departments at Heart of America Medical Center and Heart of America’s Johnson Clinic engaged in a friendly competition, a tradition for the auction and dinner.

Jelsing described it as “a friendly competition for the departments in the live auction. The clinic and the lab, and acute care, they put together amazing prizes for the live auction, and they compete. So there’s a traveling trophy, and the clinic (has) been the winner for the past few years.”

“But there was an upset,” she smiled. “The ‘Backyard Fun’ package from acute care brought $825 in the live auction. It was the highest department contribution.”

Describing the lively bidding at the auction, Jelsing said, “I think one of the reasons the live auction was so successful was (Rugby auctioneer) Mike Ostrem. He was very good at describing why we’re here, to raise money for hospice, and this is a community thing. And he’s relentless!” she said and laughed. “He wants those bids to go up!”

“I can’t say enough to thank him,” she continued. “He donates his time to that event, and it really means a lot to us to have him there.”

“I’ve never worked in a place where the employees are as generous as they are here,” Jelsing continued. They are just so giving. It’s just incredible. And it shows they believe in the work they do here, especially the work of hospice. They know how important it is. Hospice reaches out and affects many different departments. Whether you’re in the clinic, or the lab, or the hospital, they kind of touch on that long term care, and in our community, it’s very important.”

Becky Hershey, who manages Heart of America Medical Center’s hospice program, also expressed amazement at the auction’s success.

“I thought it was absolutely wonderful,” Hershey said. “We’ve had this for a number of years, and this is definitely one of the best ever. It’s great to realize how much support is behind us. Doing this day to day, we sometimes feel no one’s out there. But things like this make us feel supported and uplifted.”

Hershey said the hospice program covers a wide geographical area in central North Dakota, covering Pierce County and adjacent counties.

“We go as far as Leeds, and up to the border; we go to Rolla and Belcourt; as far south as Harvey, and as far west as Granville,” Hershey noted. “If a family needs us, we can (go farther if feasible).”

Hershey described some of the services the program provides: “We provide nursing services, care services from CNAs, and social services for end of life and grief counseling. We provide hospital chaplain services, and the services of volunteers. We provide help with medications and equipment, and we educate families on caring for (their loved ones).”

Hershey and HAMC volunteer coordinator Shelley Block also recruit volunteers to help patients with errands and other needed tasks.

“We need more volunteers because the program is growing,” Hershey said.

Two trainings will be held in the coming weeks for people who are interested in helping with the hospice program.

“We will have a training April 30, and repeat the training May 7. One training is in the evening, and one is in the daytime,” Hershey said.

Those interested in volunteering may call Heart of America Medical Center at (701) 776-5455 and ask for Becky Hershey.

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