On one home visit to her patient George’s home in early January, Hospice of the East Bay Social Worker Kim Mantch was alarmed to find George’s daughter Lorraine in an emotional state. Lorraine told Kim that when her father had become too weak to care for his beloved dog, Archie, the family made the difficult decision to have him boarded at a local veterinarian’s office. Her dad missed his dog terribly. In addition, the financial burden of boarding Archie was becoming an increasing financial burden on the family. If they could not find a home for him soon, they would be forced to have Archie euthanized. Lorraine was beside herself with worry and grief.

It was Kim’s perseverance and dedication, along with the power of social media that a wonderful family was found for Archie. The day after Kim visited with her patient and his daughter, she posted the following message on Hospice of the East Bay’s Facebook page along with a picture of Archie:

This sweet Scotty, named Archie, needs a home. Unfortunately, his caregiver has not been able to care for Archie and he has been boarded. The situation has been a tremendous financial burden on the family and if they cannot find a home for him, Archie will soon be euthanized. Archie gets along well with other dogs. Though he doesn’t have much experience with cats, when he has encountered them on walks there hasn’t been any problem. He loves to run in the yard and go for walks! Though he is 12 years old, Archie’s only medical problem is a chronic rash which requires daily medication that costs $2.80 a day. The family is willing to provide his medication for a short time, so there is no upfront cost to you. If you or someone you know can offer Archie a home, please let us know ASAP. Time is of the essence.

It is said that social media marketing generates results, but when Kim received dozens of responses to her posting, she was shocked: “Social media is all the rage these days, but to discover that it could actually help a dog that was facing tremendous odds to get adopted was truly extraordinary.”

Phil and his wife, PJ, were unfaltering in their appeal to adopt Archie. They had three Scottie dogs already and thought Archie would be a wonderful addition to their family. Kim spoke extensively with Phil and PJ and found them to be a loving couple who were willing to open their hearts and home to Archie. Once they brought Archie home, they began to use social media as a way to let everyone know how much joy Archie brought into their lives, by posting a daily status update on Facebook:

Archie is up on the sofa with my wife. He is such a gentle little soul, getting along with our two older dogs and putting up with our wild puppies. He has an appointment with our vet tomorrow for a check up and a haircut on Saturday.

On January 20th Phil made a truly amazing discovery:

Well, I have never been a big believer in fate or destiny but Archie defies my previously held ideas. Upon reading his American Kennel Club papers, we discovered that he comes from the same breeder as our two Wheaten Scotties that we brought into our family in August, 2011.

Fate or Facebook, it seems meant to be that Archie was placed in the most perfect home for him. And, the relief that Lorraine experiences every day knowing that her dad’s dearly loved dog, Archie, is happy has made all of Kim’s efforts worthwhile.

Thank you Kim and all of Hospice of the East Bay Social Workers for trying to find all the answers and handling every situation!

Paul Valle-Riestra entered the Bruns House on May 20, 2011 and embarked on his final destination in his nineteen-month battle with brain cancer. Born and raised in Walnut Creek, he led a remarkable life. Paul went to UC Davis and Berkeley, returned to Walnut Creek in 1990 and was the Assistant City Attorney for 16 years and City Attorney for the last 5 years. His loyalty to the city he grew up in, family, friends and co-workers made him the incredible man that people remember. He lost his battle on May 26, but this was not just his fight—Alice, his wife of nineteen years, also fought for Paul and became his caregiver and advocate all the while trying to keep life at home for their two girls, nine and fifteen, as normal as possible.

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Alamo, CA - The seemingly impossible was made possible by Hospice of the East Bay staff this past April. Lorice French, a Bruns House patient, and her family were “transported” through technology 800 miles to Chandler, Arizona where her dear friend, Grammy award winner Roberta Flack, was performing a concert in her honor.

“It was a day that we will always remember,” said Bhawin Mistry, Director of Hospice’s Information Technology (IT) Department and Greg Thomas, IT Specialist, “It was an honor to have the ability to grant Mrs. French’s dying wish.”

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When Rabbi Charles (Chuck) Mintz became seriously ill, his wife Adele felt hesitant about leaving him alone for any length of time. She wanted to be there in case he needed her. “Then, on the very first day that Chuck was admitted to Hospice of the East Bay, volunteer Diane Portnoff called to say that she would visit our home every Wednesday afternoon to provide me with a break. She told me that I could go out or stay in. It was up to me to decide what I wanted to do. So I went out!”

It was on one of these afternoons that Chuck asked Diane if she could show him Bruns House. He and Adele had heard about it but he wanted to see for himself, so Diane drove him to tour the house.

“He immediately felt at peace and remarked that, if necessary, this was the place he wanted to stay,” remarked Diane. Chuck ended up staying at Bruns House twice—once for a respite stay, which provided Adele with the opportunity to travel to her granddaughter’s wedding. “The second time was in the fall,” said Diane. “Adele could no longer manage Chuck’s symptoms at home. I remember it was a warm and lovely day that Chuck peacefully passed away at Bruns House with his family by his side.”

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Pleasant Hill, CA - One day in 1975, three women met for lunch. Evelyn Radford, (aka “Peggy”) was a historian and instructor at Diablo Valley College who remembered and sought to apply the slogan, “If you want it done right, you just have to do it.” Viola Riebe was a nurse and teacher at Los Medanos College who had learned of the English hospice approach to caring for the terminally ill and dying. Dell Oblacynski was an experienced volunteer who sought a more challenging volunteer job such as the one she found working in a hospital during World War II.

The three women spoke about the hospice concept and its application: managing pain and symptoms of illness while offering practical, emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families. By the time they were finished with lunch, the women had a united goal to create the first hospice program in Contra Costa County.

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