Volunteers help Heirlooms for Hospice succeed

Kathy Martin’s career managing the Heirlooms for Hospice store in Grand Junction might as well have come wrapped with a big red bow.

Before moving to Colorado nearly a decade ago, Martin owned a decorating and floral store in Phoenix. Retail management was her fort&233;.

When her son died of lung problems while in hospice care in Arizona years ago, it became clear to Martin that hospice work deserved her support.

“I love it,” Martin said of her job as regional manager for the Heirlooms for Hospice stores in Grand Junction and Montrose, which generate revenue for Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado. “We are able to provide a setting to honor loved ones and their families.”

The holiday season has struck the Hospice store on Main Street. Christmas trees are decorated, and the volunteers who make the Heirlooms store run successfully are happy and ready to help customers.

One of those volunteers is Susan Miracle, who, like Martin, decided to help the Hospice organization after seeing the dignified and customized care her father received from Hospice nearly eight years ago toward the end of his battle with cancer.

“They were so caring,” Miracle said. “The whole Hospice team was so great.”

Miracle and her husband, Gordon, began volunteering at Heirlooms for Hospice in Grand Junction in 2001. When Gordon died in 2007, Susan decided to continue as a volunteer in the upscale resale store.

Miracle can usually be found at the cash register on Monday mornings.

Volunteers at Heirlooms in Grand Junction usually work a four-hour shift once a week.

“It’s a family,” Miracle said.

The family atmosphere at Heirlooms and how the store supports Hospice were so attractive that Mary Lou Dahms asked to copy it. Dahms is the marketing director for Hospice of the Red River Valley in Fargo, N.D.

After Dahms visited Grand Junction multiple times to learn more about how the Heirlooms store here operated, an Heirlooms for Hospice store was opened in Fargo in September 2003. Like the stores in Grand Junction and Montrose, the Fargo store is run almost entirely by volunteers.

“We are doing wonderfully, and we owe it to the people of Grand Junction,” Dahms said.

The Heirlooms store in Grand Junction owes its success to the community and the people who donate items for resale, Martin said. Some Hospice patients have left their estates to Heirlooms, and some family members have donated crystal, china and other fine furnishings to Heirlooms on behalf of deceased loved ones, Martin said.

Those items are among the many different things Heirlooms features, including clothing, cookie jars and, this time of year, even Christmas ornaments.

As a way to honor Heirlooms volunteers and other community members, Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado will have its annual Lights of Life ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday at the Heirlooms for Hospice store, 635 Main St. For more information about donating items to Heirlooms stores, call 254-8556 (Grand Junction) or 252-3648 (Montrose).


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