After helping in fundraising, Grand Junction couple makes personal donation
No one who knows Ken Leis or Kathy Hall was surprised when the Grand Junction couple gave $500,000 to Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado.
Leis is a member of Hospice’s board of directors, and Hall is on the executive committee of the foundation’s board.
But Kathy O’Shea, vice president of development at Hospice, still screamed with joy when she discovered they donated half a million dollars. It was the largest noncorporate cash contribution ever made to Hospice, said Christy Whitney, Hospice’s chief executive officer.
“If I ever suspected there wasn’t a Santa Claus, that set me straight,” O’Shea said.
Leis and Hall, who have been married about two years, gave Hospice the money Dec. 31, but officials at Hospice waited until this week to announce they had received the $500,000 gift because the dedication of the “Leis Lobby” is 2 p.m. June 28 at the Hospice Care Center.
Leis and Hall chose to have the lobby named in their honor because it is warm and welcoming with its fireplace, rocking chairs and custom wood molding, Hall said.
On Tuesday, the couple saw the portrait and certificate that will be hung in the Leis Lobby before the June 28 dedication.
“I would have given money without publicity,” Leis said.
In fact, many in the community likely aren’t aware Leis and Hall helped Hospice raise more than $1 million in the past two years for the construction of the new Hospice Care Center and the beautification of the entire campus at 3090 N. 12th St.
Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado works with terminally ill patients and their families in Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties. Hospice also works with people grieving the loss of a loved one.
Through their involvement with the Colorado Oil & Gas Association of the Western Slope, Leis and Hall helped secure more than $700,000 in donations for construction of the West Slope COGA park, which is open to the public. The oil and gas companies and individuals who donated money are listed on a rock bench in the park.
Leis was a founder of Laramie Energy. Hall, a Mesa County Commissioner from 1995 to 2003, now works for COGA.
In addition to the $500,000 Leis and Hall donated to Hospice in December, Leis gave $175,000 to Hospice in 2007 to have one of the care center’s new patient rooms named in honor of his friend Gary Babcock, who died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, two years ago.
Leis said Babcock was his best friend, but he never knew the role Hospice played in Babcock’s life until a Hospice volunteer spoke at Babcock’s funeral in Denver.
“On my way home (from Gary’s funeral) I decided this is something I’m going to get involved in,” Leis said.
Hall also lost a close friend who received care through Hospice when Dan Cummings died three years ago. A rock with an etching of Cummings’ face is in the West Slope COGA park. Cummings worked for Hospice.
“I don’t ever walk on this facility without seeing his face,” Hall said.
Before his death, Cummings asked Hall to “please help me raise the money to build this place.”
Hall and Leis haven’t stopped raising money and giving money to Hospice since the loss of their friends.
The new Hospice Care Center opened in August. The West Slope COGA park has a large foundation, a small waterfall, several benches and two ducks, although the number of ducks who hang out in the park varies.
Sitting in the COGA park on Tuesday, Hall and Leis said the generosity of residents in Grand Junction makes this community special.
“We hope our gift will inspire others,” Hall said.