Chamber talks hospice at networking lunch

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By Bryce Airgood
The Williamston Post

When Heather Vida tells people about the organization she works for, they back away from her or look uneasy. Vida is the director of fund development at Hospice of Lansing.

Heather and Ted

Vida and her friend Ted pose for a picture. Ted was there to advertise for the Teddy Bear Tea event.

The Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce had Vida as its guest speaker on March 26 at the Brookshire Inn & Golf Club. She describes her everyday job as being a “professional beggar.”

“Fundraising is fundraising, but you’ve got to know the jargon,” she said. “I bridge the gap for what we get reimbursed versus the actual price of what we do.”

Her role at the lunch was that of informant and fundraiser. She gave her presentation at the request of Barbara Burke, executive director of the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce. Vida had told Burke that if there was ever an opening for a speaker at the monthly lunch to let her know.

“Hospice is very misunderstood,” said Vida. “I always embrace opportunities to share information with people.”


Vida giving part of her hospice presentation.

Among the information Vida shared was her experience with Hospice, as both her aunt and grandparents used its services. She described one particular incident where Hospice intervened in a family dispute. Vida’s mother and aunt had been fighting about the fact that Vida’s aunt wasn’t eating. So the Hospice worker sat Vida and her mother down for a “frank conversation.”

“A Pop-Tart isn’t going to make a difference,” Vida recalled the worker saying. “She’s not dying because she’s not eating. She’s not eating because she’s dying.”

The presentation was serious in nature, but Vida did try to lighten it up at the end with the statistic that the world death rate is still a steady 100 percent.

The presentation seemed well received by the audience, and attracted some people to attend the lunch. Bonnie Krauss, owner of Williamston Inn, said that the Hospice presentation is what made her come.

“My father-in-law might need it down the road,” she said. “Who knows?”

While some were there to learn more, others just had their beliefs concreted.

Beary Friendly

Burke snapping a picture of Vida, Ted and Chief Ambassador Casey Brockway.

“(I) admired hospice cleveland, thought it was a great program,” said Burke. “She (Heather) reinforced what I already thought.”

There was also an unusual character spotted at the lunch. He was large, fluffy and named Ted. He was also a teddy bear.

“He’s our photo opportunity guy,” said Vida, who brought the bear.

Ted, and his brother Bill, are two teddy bears hospice is using to advertise for their upcoming event Teddy Bear Tea. Hospice is partnering with Impression 5 Science Center to hold the event to benefit Hospice of Lansing. The event is $7 to attend and will be held at Impression 5 Science Center April 26 from noon to 5 p.m.

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