The spirit of compassion permeates the air at Hildegard House, the Butchertown home where 65 volunteers serve on a rotating schedule to care for those “individuals at the end of life who have no home or loved ones to care for them.”
Karen Cassidy, a palliative care nurse, is the executive director. She led the drive to establish Hildegard House, and the non-profit was able to purchase the former church property, which was home to Ursuline Sisters for decades, in 2016.
Before taking on the leadership role at Hildegard House, Cassidy said that she was witness to many sad stories of individuals who came to the end of life with nothing.
“Every day I would see people at the end of life who had no home or caregivers to care for them,” she said. “It’s hard to see someone die by themselves.”
The building, which served as a home for the Ursuline Sisters for the adjacent St. Joseph Church from 1926-1995, has three resident bedrooms, a kitchen, common area and meeting room. Upstairs are offices for Cassidy and one staff member, and an area to train volunteers. There’s a beautiful garden in view of the resident windows.
On one wall, there’s a wreath on which a heart is place each time a resident passes away. Since the first resident arrived in 2016, 66 hearts have been placed on the wreath. Residents stay for periods from one week to six months.
Cassidy said the building’s purchase and a significant amount of remodeling was made possible through donations from 2,500 individual donors. She said local contractor Clore Construction donated materials, labor and expertise. Earlier this year, Hildegard received a $100,000 cash prize after winning a national award from Premier Inc., a Charlotte, N.C.-based hospital company.
At a ceremony in which Hildegard received the award, Mayor Greg Fischer was quoted in Insider about its place in the community. “Hildegard House occupies a critical space in our community, filling a gap that too many people in our city need. 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,” he said.
Cassidy said one of the amazing aspects of Hildegard is the corps of “compassionate companions” who fill a calendar of five-hour shifts to help those on their end-of-life journey.
“People want to be here, they like to be here,” she said, noting that in two years she’s never lacked enough volunteers. “They feel they’re at a place they can give of themselves and are open to the call.”
On Sept. 22, a fund-raising event, “An Evening with Hildegard” is planned from 5-8 p.m. at the Atria Hospitality Center at 300 E. Market St. Local TV personality Rachel Platt with emcee the event, with guest performances by the Louisville Ballet and performance artist Jeannde Ford. Tickets are available through Hildegard House.
On Oct. 12, Hildegard hosts its annual golf scramble at Heritage Hill Golf Club in Shepherdsville. Write [email protected] for more information.