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flowersHospice Helps Renee Live Final Weeks with Dignity, not Judgement

By Cheri Milton

When my sister Renee was 43, she had bariatric surgery for weight loss. Before that, she never drank alcohol. But after her surgery, she’d have a glass of wine. Being predisposed to an addictive temperament, a person can “trade” addictions. And that’s exactly what happened—long before we realized it was a problem.

From then on, Renee did rehab, inpatient programs, outpatient programs. She tried to do the “internal” work, too, but she just could not hang on to long-term sobriety.

As Renee was dying from liver disease, I felt sad, overwhelmed and helpless that my sister’s drinking had taken her down this awful path. She, too, felt so much regret and shame for not being able to maintain sobriety and turn her health around.

Agrace Was the Best Choice for Her
renee brown

Renee Brown

When her doctors said it was time for hospice, my husband and I knew we wanted to help. We invited Renee to move into our home in rural Columbia County. I was convinced that Agrace Hospice Care was the best choice for her. I was a grief counselor with Agrace from 2007 to 2019—and that’s where “my people” are!

Renee came to our home on a Saturday, and we called Agrace immediately. The Enrollment Team visited on Sunday. The staff who came to enroll Renee were so patient as she struggled to answer their questions. Their compassion was so evident that Renee relaxed, feeling that they were not blaming her, but really cared about getting her the support she needed.

Renee’s Baraboo-based care team included her nurse, Amber, and social worker, Leslie. Their first visit was so reassuring to all of us—that the goal was to help Renee feel safe, cared for and comfortable, to provide the best quality of life for her. Renee slowly set aside her guilt, shame and embarrassment.

renee and daughter

Renee accepted the offer to spend her final weeks with family, well supported as she tried to make amends and find peace.

With her pain managed and the right medical equipment provided by Agrace, Renee was able to sing and play her electric keyboard. Our family treasures those moments, hearing her beautiful voice for the last time!

As she declined, Renee’s symptoms became severe. Each time there was a ramping up of pain we found ourselves having to call Agrace in the night. Agrace’s Care Access Team responded quickly, sending a nurse out to assess her, figure out what was needed and help us feel comfortable giving any new medication.

In every interaction with Agrace staff, I know Renee felt respect and compassion. There was no judgement, no criticism. This freed her to embrace her final moments, to say all the things she needed to say, and make amends where she could.

Five weeks after signing onto Agrace, our family surrounded Renee’s bed as she took her last breath. Just 61, she died peacefully, with dignity. We will be forever grateful to Agrace for making our journey possible.



Build Your Skills with Agrace’s Summer Grief Education Series

You’re invited to join Agrace’s community grief specialists this summer for three virtual (Zoom) presentations. Learn how you can be supportive to grieving people. Each session is offered twice; choose the date and time that work best for you. There is no cost, but you must pre-register here. If you have questions about these programs, please call the Agrace Grief Support Center at (608) 327-7110.

Grief 101: Learn about grief, how it shows up in our lives and how to support people who are grieving.

      • Tuesday, June 21, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

      • Tuesday, July 19, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

grieving teenHow to Support Grieving Kids: Ideas for parents and caregivers of grieving children.

      • Tuesday, June 28, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

      • Tuesday, August 2, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

How to Support Grieving Students: For anyone who is working with grieving students/children in a professional setting.

      • Tuesday, July 12, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

      • Tuesday, August 9, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.


It’s Hard Work—but So Very Meaningful

Lynne Sexten photo

Lynne Sexten, President &. CEO

Last fall, Agrace completed the Wisconsin State Journal Top Workplaces survey, and in March, we were named the #6 Top Workplace among large companies surveyed in Dane, Sauk, Columbia and Rock counties!

Ninety-six companies participated, and Agrace was ranked alongside well-known Wisconsin employers like Promega, Summit Credit Union and Kwik Trip. We also stood out on the survey’s national level as a workplace where staff agreed very strongly that “My job makes me feel like I’m part of something meaningful.”

Although the work we do can be very hard, our staff are passionate about doing it. People in crisis let us help them stay in their homes as they age, manage serious illnesses, find a safe place for family members with dementia, prepare for the last months of life or cope with grief after a death. When we accomplish this, the work has tremendous meaning.

As we work to attract top talent to Agrace, being among our region’s Top Workplaces is a win for everyone.

top workplaces logoSincerely,

Lynne Sexten
President & CEO


We’re Open! Adult Day Center Hosts Ribbon-cutting

adult day center ribbon cuttingOn April 26, we officially welcomed the public to visit the Agrace Adult Day Center in Madison. The Center has been caring for seniors since Summer 2021 with a balance of activities and companionship.

If you know someone who needs this kind of care in a place that brings them joy, please call us for more information at (608) 327-7303.

purple flowers


agrace foundation team

Agrace Foundation:
We’re Here to Serve You

As a friend of Agrace, you may be interested in ways to memorialize a loved one, details about our upcoming events or more information on ways you can support Agrace, so others receive the care they need. The Agrace Foundation has staff based in or near your community to answer questions for you—and more. We are a resource whenever you need us. Please contact the Agrace Foundation at (608) 327-7180 to be connected to a local representative who can assist you.

Learn more about the many meaningful ways you can support Agrace here.


First Volunteer, Patient Matched in Waukesha County

waukesha volunteer brenda


After recruiting and training our first class of hospice volunteers in our new Oconomowoc office, we recently filled our first request for volunteer support.

Our volunteer, Brenda, says, “I am interested in people and their stories, so I think my client and I both take away a warm feeling from our time together. Volunteering with Agrace has allowed me to use a little of my time to make a positive difference in the life of another person who might otherwise feel quite alone in this part of their life’s journey.”

Thanks to volunteers like Brenda, our hospice patients in Waukesha County (like those everywhere else we serve) can now enjoy a game of cards, some help around the house or just a caring presence, compliments of Agrace! If you know someone who wants to support the quality of life of people in their community as a volunteer, ask them to contact Agrace’s Jenn Sauter at (608) 276-4660.

supportive care illustration

Who could Agrace be helping in Waukesha County?

Agrace now offers hospice care to Waukesha County residents who are in the final months of life. But we also offer the only home-based supportive (palliative) care program
in that county.

Agrace Supportive Care helps people live better at any point during a serious or life-limiting illness. The first step is an in-home consultation to explore ways to help improve poorly controlled symptoms and stress related to being ill.

If you know someone in Waukesha County—or nearly anywhere else in our southern Wisconsin service area—who could benefit, please call (800) 930-2770.


pink flowersUpcoming Events

Twice Monthly: Grief on the Move, Fitchburg

This walk to connect with others as you process grief starts at the Agrace Grief Support Center. Join us June 21, July 5 & 19, Aug 2 & 16, Sept. 6 & 20, from noon to 1 p.m. Attend one or all. There is no fee, but please call (608) 327-7110 to register at least 24 hours before each session.

rainbow graphicJune 22: Virtual Panel Discussion–Gender and Sexuality in Health Care

When it comes to health care, trusting your provider is vital. For too many people, a lack of trust leads to poor health outcomes. That’s why Agrace is hosting a panel discussion about the health care experiences of LGBTQ+ people—and how we can provide better quality care and create safer environments for all. Join us to learn more from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Central. Register at Agrace.org/PanelEvent.

golfball icon

July 28: A Round with Agrace, Wisconsin Dells*

Join us for a splendid day of golf and fun at the award-winning Trappers Turn Golf Club. Take the day to play for a great cause while enjoying course games, lunch, an appetizer reception and more! Register for this popular event here, or call (608) 219-8088.

September 13: Golf Open, Verona* 

Join us at our 27th annual Golf Open at Hawks Landing Golf Club. You can register your foursome now!

banding together for agrace logoSeptember 17: BANDing Together for Agrace, Dodgeville*

Get your tickets now for this fun, three-act benefit concert at Ley Memorial Pavilion in Harris Park. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Performances by Big Cat Eddie, Shekinah King and the Alpha Romeos and SuperTuesday start at 5:30 p.m., and there’ll be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, food and beverages. Register now and save the date!


*Proceeds of these events support programs and services for Agrace’s patients and clients.


Agrace’s First Giving Day Brings Support, Hope and Healing

giving day hand and heart iconThank you for making our first Agrace Giving Day on April 6 a success! In just 24 hours, more than $18,000 was raised for those Agrace serves who are aging, seriously ill, dying or grieving. Your support means that when someone needs hospice care, grief support or even a final wish, Agrace will be there—even if they cannot pay.

It was wonderful to see how many people shared their own Agrace stories, reacted or shared social media posts on our Agrace channels, and helped spread the word. Thank you for your support!

Missed Agrace Giving Day? You can support our programs year round here.


Leave Your Legacy, not a Tax Bill

multigenerational family photoBy planning ahead, you can increase the value of your legacy for your beneficiaries. If the largest asset in your estate is your retirement plan—a qualified account like an IRA, 401(k) or pension—your heirs will owe income tax. After paying estate and income taxes, as much as 60 percent of this gift may be gone before your child, relative or friend receives it. The beneficiary will also need to deplete the account over a short 10 years, if it is left to someone other than your spouse.

When you plan to create a personal legacy at Agrace, you can avoid this outcome—while leaving your loved ones other assets that are not taxed as income. By naming a charity like Agrace as a beneficiary of your qualified retirement plan, you avoid this tax burden. You will continue to access your funds in the plan during retirement, and when your estate is settled, Agrace won’t pay income tax on the retirement funds you donate. The whole gift will go toward care for patients and clients.

To learn how these rules may affect you, contact your personal financial advisor today. For details about Agrace or our Legacy Circle planned-gift recognition program, please contact John Hromyak of the Agrace Foundation at (608) 327-7139.


Ho, Ho, Holiday Donations Needed for 2022 Pop-Up Shop

thrift holiday treesIt’s time to drop off your donations for Agrace’s 2022 Holiday Pop-Up Shop! You can clear out unwanted holiday decorations and raise money to benefit Agrace’s grief support services, including programs offered by the Agrace Grief Support Center.

Check your closets, attic and basement for artificial Christmas trees, tree toppers and skirts, “ugly” holiday sweaters, garlands, ornaments, pillows, Santas, reindeer, nutcrackers, collectible houses, yard décor and more. We collect items for the shop all year at all four Agrace thrift store locations. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for news about the shop, which will open in Madison in October.