A local nonprofit that gives end-of-life care to those who have nowhere else to go was just given a prestigious national award that came with a $100,000 gift.
Hildegard House, 114 Adams St., in Butchertown, was given the 26th annual Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award and a $100,000 cash prize from Premier Inc, a hospital company in Charlotte, N.C., on June 21. The award was presented in Nashville.
Hildegard House hosted a news conference and celebration Tuesday morning with Mayor Greg Fischer and Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith in attendance.
Karen Cassidy, founder and executive director, said Hildegard House is a “place of miracles and blessings,” and the award was just another example of that.
“Hildegard House occupies a critical space in our community, filling a gap that too many people in our city need,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Hildegard House provides end-of-life care for people who have no other options and, like all of us, want to spend their final days with dignity.”
The organization fits into the city’s model of a compassionate city, Fischer said. “Hildegard House is a tremendous part of why our city enjoys a global reputation for compassion. … Dignity has a home here at Hildegard House, and compassion has a home in Louisville.”
The volunteers who work with the residents are called compassionate companions at Hildegard House.
“We make sure that patients are comfortable and they have what they need,” said Marie Mills, a compassionate companion.
The volunteers spend time with the residents, making sure they have their meds, helping them to the bathroom, talking to them or leaving them alone, whatever the residents wish, she said.
Cassidy said the gift would be put into the organization’s sustainability fund for long-term investment. The organization is only two years old, so expansion isn’t in the works at the moment, but possibly in the future there will be another home with the original Hildegard House as its headquarters, she said.
With the costs of nursing homes becoming far beyond most people’s means, organizations like Hildegard House will become an increasing need. “People who are homeless, whose families are out of town … If you don’t have a home, you can’t have hospice,” Cassidy said. “If you don’t have 24-hour caregivers, you can’t have hospice. We provide a home and 24-hour caregivers for people that don’t have a home or can’t afford 24-hour caregivers either in their home or in a nursing home.”
Hildegard House is located in a former Ursuline Convent, which housed nuns who taught at St. Joseph School, next door. The school closed, and the sisters moved out. It was a day care for a while, then Hildegard House came along and rented the building, then later bought it, Cassidy said.
It’s named for Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Century nun who opened her own hospice. She’s a saint in the Catholic church and is a Doctor of the Church, one of only four women with that title, Cassidy said. But the organization is nondenominational and accepts all people and volunteers.
Mills said that her service at Hildegard house has made her a better Christian and person. “Nobody has to believe anything to be here, to volunteer or to be a resident,” she said. “But I’m a Christian, and every time I come here I see Christ. I see Christ in the residents; I see Christ in the volunteers. And so it makes me more compassionate to be here. It makes me a kinder person and more empathetic.”
Hosparus President and CEO Phil Marshall said the Premier Cares Award is a very big deal in the nonprofit world. Hosparus partners with Hildegard House to provide hospice care to residents.
“I’m very, very jealous, and I’ve never been happier to be jealous than I am right now,” Marshall said. “We at Hosparus Health are providing the hospice care for the patients that come to Hildegard House. We will continue to do that and be dedicated to the mission that you all have created. (Cassidy) reminded me the other day that it’s about home and family and treating people right every single day.”