United Way Presents Keeping the doors open at Southeast Texas Hospice

Published 6:14 am Saturday, November 6, 2021

By Dawn Burleigh

(Editor’s Note: This is part 9 of a 21-part series on the partners of United Way of Orange County.)

Southeast Texas Hospice is dedicated to caring for terminally ill patients and their families.  Over 4,000 families in Orange County have felt the impact of the caring hearts of those who work for the organization.

In 1976, four dedicated founding members set to work to make the dream of providing service to the dying in southeast Texas a reality. And by 1979, sixteen patients had been served. Since its humble beginnings, the Southeast Texas Hospice has grown to include a governing board of 12 area civic leaders, 16 staff, and over 65 volunteers who serve over approximately 150 patient families per year.

As a private, nonprofit, non-governmental organization, the Southeast Texas Hospice is dedicated to caring for terminally ill patients and their families.

“We have been partners with United Way for a long time,” Executive Director Mary McKenna said. “Since the 80’s, I think.”

Without the partnership, Southeast Texas Hospice would not be here today to assist families during a difficult journey.

“We were at a point early on where I had two year’s worth of paychecks in my desk drawer,” McKenna said. “There was no money for them. The board said ‘You need to find money or come up with a closing plan. You have six months.’ I started putting together a closing plan.”

She spoke with the three United Way organizations in the area as well.

“We are here today because they said yes,” McKenna said. “We are forever grateful.”

She added how United Way helped during COVID.

“PPE was hard to find and expensive,” McKenna said. “United Way came through for us and helped us get through those difficult times by paying for the PPE. David Jones with Gopher consistently had the needed PPE in stock.”

The gloves and masks were needed as staff went from patients to patients home to help keep themselves safe and to prevent spreading COVID to patients keeping them safe as well.

Hospice is for patients who have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of one year or less as certified by their physician and are referred by a friend, family member, social service agency, clergy or by their own choice. Our service area is for residents living in the “Golden Triangle” region of southeast Texas.

Hospice provides services to patients and families who desire hospice care in their home and who have enough support to be safely maintained in their residence. Hospice also provides care to dying individuals in nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Hospice care is available to any terminally ill individual regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, or ability to pay, according to its official website.

Southeast Texas Hospice is currently recruiting for new volunteers. Be part of making a difference for someone when they need it most. We need volunteers for companionship visits with our hospice patients and volunteers for crafts and office work.

Call the office (409)886-0622 or send a DM on Facebook for more questions or if you’re ready to get your training started.

Some of the areas in need of volunteers are:

  • Home Visits to Patients and Families
  • Office Help
  • Craft Making for Patients and Families
  • Help with Fundraisers
  • Help with Socials

To make a donation to United Way of Orange County, visit https://www.uwoctx.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1