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Derailed by Dementia, Embraced by Agrace

We all hope that those we love will have access to the best possible care at the end of life. But what does that look like? What does it feel like? We think maybe Chuck Haacker knows. We thank him for letting us show you his Agrace experience:

A week ago, my bride of 46+ years, Daphne, passed away in our loving arms. All of our loving arms.

My son and I took turns staying with her, and we were both with her at the moment she passed. She came to Agrace to die, and die she did, of complications of dementia. She was visited daily by her family, but the real constant presence, around the clock, was Agrace staff.

Daphne came to Agrace from the hospital kitten-weak, but still feisty, physically fighting being “cared for” and swearing like a Marine. Staff stroked her hair and skin, spoke gently to her, told her exactly what they were doing and why, and managed each time to calm her enough to do what needed to be done. She probably still hated it, but those of us quietly observing were consistently impressed with the genuine love shown by staff, even for a very crotchety, dying old lady.

She hated being an Old Lady. In our youth and vigor we really have no concept of what it is to grow old. Aches. Pains. Eyesight. Hearing. Stomach. Hair. Fear of falling. At some point I realized I was old. I suspect we all do. But we don’t feel old; not mentally. I’m 75 but I still feel, oh, 35-ish. I still want to DO stuff. So did Daphne. We had miles to go, but were derailed by a stupid, irreversible disease.

We had visits from social workers and doctors and nurse practitioners and spiritual & grief counselors. We had access to quiet rooms and a library. When our beloved daughter-in-law arrived with our 18-month-old granddaughter, no one asked her to quiet down. We were constantly asked, “How are YOU?  Are you eating? Are you getting some rest?”

Afterward, when you ceremoniously rolled Daphne out, I could hear her stifling a giggle. She would have been by turns deeply touched and amused. “For ME?” she would have said, “Oh, gosh, don’t do that.” Thus I was, by turns, deeply touched, and amused, but mostly grateful. That procession past staff standing silently at attention was very moving, and, I suspect, also very Agrace.

Daphne’s death was long-expected, so there wasn’t the crushing shock of sudden death, but there’s a certain weirdness. We have all cried, but we stop, then start again. We know she is not here, and that knowledge sometimes washes over like a wave on the shore, then recedes.

I know Daphne was always—inside—that young, intelligent, funny, vibrant young woman I fell in love with all those years ago. If the soul survives the death of the body, I hope she went to the light.

Thank you all, again, from all of Daphne’s family, and many others who loved and miss her.
 —  Chuck Haacker


Generosity Keeps Growing … and Never Grows Old

If you feel moved by Chuck’s letter (above) and Daphne’s care, you can help ensure that Agrace’s support continues to be available—to everyone who needs it. As Agrace grows, more and more people across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois are counting on us for “the best possible” hospice and palliative care. And we count on support from generous donors like you.
Please Donate Today
Gifts of any amount are welcome. Please keep Agrace growing strong. Thank you!



Agrace to Open Freestanding Grief Support Center

Each year, hundreds of people attend grief support groups at Agrace to find hope and healing after someone they love has died. Soon, we’ll have a new space where we can offer this support.

We are excited to announce plans for the  opening in July in Fitchburg. It will be a welcoming place for people of all ages. Anyone in our service area will be welcome to use it to find comfort, express their grief and work toward healthy survivorship—even if the person whose loss they are grieving was not an Agrace patient.

Look for more information about the Center here, and watch for a grand-opening celebration announcement in the Summer 2017 issue of this newsletter.


Volunteering Brightens Lives!


Thrift Stores Generate Nearly $250,000 in 2016

Thrift store volunteers (left to right)
Colleen McCabe, Louise Stephenson and Jane Norman

Agrace’s three thrift stores finished the year strong! We exceeded our 2016 revenue goal and generated nearly $250,000 to help support patient and family care throughout Agrace’s service area. Our Janesville thrift store was a rock star in 2016, increasing sales nearly 15 percent over 2015.

In 2017, we’ll be working to attract more donations and keep a steady number of (amazing) volunteers. With very limited paid staff, we rely on dedicated volunteers, and we’re always looking for more to join the fun!

Interested? There are lots of ways you could help as a volunteer, in just four hours a week. Want to operate the cash register? Sort new donations? Price clothing, housewares or collectibles? We have a solid training process and skilled store leaders to help you succeed. To learn more, visit any of our thrift stores and talk with a manager, or call (608) 327-7163.

See Store Locations



Please save the date and join us!

Spring into Summer at Gala on the Green in Janesville

Agrace’s Gala on the Green blends an elegant evening at the Janesville Country Club with just a little bit of golf! On June 17, please join us for gourmet dining, an entertaining live auction and live music by Eddie B Jazz. Golfers, try your luck at a putting contest under the lights! Tickets are $100/person.


Tami Kellerman Joins Agrace

Building Relationships with Agrace Supporters in Rock County and Rockford Area

We’re pleased to welcome Tami Kellerman to Agrace as a development manager. Tami will help us build on the very successful donor relationships Jayme Roth initiated in Rock County over the past 10 years, and also add new donors to support the services we now offer to northern Illinois residents.

Tami has more than 20 years’ experience working with nonprofit organizations and donors. Most recently, she was executive director of The Haven Network, Rockford. You can contact Tami at (608) 206-3067 or tami.kellerman@agrace.org.


Upcoming Events & Groups


Planting the Seeds for Legacy Giving

As spring approaches, it’s exciting to make plans—for enjoying warm weather (hopefully soon), and also for a little further down the road. Perhaps 2017 holds a special graduation, or a long-awaited new family member or your much-anticipated retirement.

Courtney Polster

Courtney Polster

There are simple things we can do every day to prepare for the future. Legacy giving works the same way! Simple steps taken now can help build your legacy of charitable giving. For example, by naming a favorite charity, like Agrace, as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy or your retirement account, you plant a seed today that will grow into something beautiful tomorrow. Your gift is an investment in the future of Agrace and a legacy of exceptional end-of-life care for our community.

To learn more about making a legacy gift to Agrace, please contact Courtney Polster at (608) 327-7139.