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Heart & Sole Virtual Walk-A-Thon on September 12

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Benefiting Home Health Foundation is a Family Affair

Lawrence, Mass. (August 14, 2020) – As part of her job in the philanthropy department of Merrimack Valley Hospice, Kelly Lepore frequently hears stories from grateful families about the expert, compassionate care their loved ones receive at the end of their life’s journey.

While Lepore never expected to join their ranks, her fundraising work has become personal since the nonprofit organization provided hospice, palliative and comfort care to her father, Ken Barbin, leading to his passing on August 7, 2019.

“I saw it firsthand from everybody who walked in that door, and they way they took care of my father. From the nurses to the social workers to the intake coordinator, it was unbelievable,” Lepore recalled. “They really are angels. It makes me appreciate the work that I do even more now.”

To give back, Lepore is participating in the Heart & Sole Virtual Walk-A-Thon benefiting the agencies of Home Health Foundation, including Merrimack Valley Hospice. Participants may join the virtual walk on the official event day of Saturday, September 12, or walk one or more days anytime during the month of September while registered as an individual or team.

A $50 VISA gift card will be awarded to the winners of four photo contest categories: Best Virtual Team Photo; Most Creative Sign; Best Motivational Photo; and Most Scenic Walk Route. The total fundraising goal is $70,000 to continue providing a comprehensive continuum of care and services to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

Lepore is being supported in the fundraiser by family members including her brother, Michael Barbin, and mother, Denise Barbin. Michael said he is “beyond grateful” that his family could rely on the medical, bereavement and support services of Merrimack Valley Hospice.

“I have a much deeper appreciation, having gone through this process,” he said. “My perception of hospice was a volunteer keeping a patient company, which is certainly important – but it’s all the other services that come along with it. Sometimes a nurse or social worker would share experiences they’ve had to make us feel a little bit better, or to let us know what to expect. That was all really helpful.”

Denise Barbin, who began volunteering for Merrimack Valley Hospice after witnessing the compassionate care her own father received from its skilled clinicians in 2009, then received services from Home Health VNA after breaking her foot in April 2019. When Ken discontinued treatment for malignant throat cancer, the family turned to Merrimack Valley Hospice for medical and bereavement support at the most vulnerable time in their lives.

“I was so grateful because I didn’t have to worry about his meds, how is he going to swallow, when is the bed coming – or anything,” Denise Barbin said. “They took a difficult situation and made it so all we had to do was love him.”

To view the video on Lepore’s fundraising page, visit https://bit.ly/3kwFYM3. To learn more and register for the Heart & Sole Virtual Walk-A-Thon, visit www.homehealthfoundation.org/events/walk-a-thon/.

About Home Health Foundation

Home Health Foundation, which includes providers Circle Home, Commonwealth Nursing Services, Hallmark Health VNA, Home Health VNA, Home Health VNA of NH, Merrimack Valley Hospice and York Hospital Hospice as part of the Wellforce Health System, provides essential home health and hospice care in all the places patients call home. Together, these agencies are leading the development of a new era of innovation, with a relentless focus on transforming home-based care.

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