A beautiful home on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest welcomed guests to an intimate reception honoring a new level of commitment to Hospice of Santa Barbara at a charter event for Heart of Hospice.

Contributions of $1,000 or more, renewable annually, joined together this group of committed individuals who help sustain many of the critical Hospice of Santa Barbara programs.

“This is new for Hospice of Santa Barbara,” Development Director K.C. Murphy Thompson said. “We haven’t had an annual tiered giving program for higher-end donors who really get it and understand that we need individual donors to support our work. They commit at a very significant level, and they recommit and they support the core work that we do which is critical.”

Expansive mountain and ocean views from the home of Kenneth and Elizabeth Slaught provided a wonderful setting that gathered 45 special VIPs for the first-ever reception.

Hospice of Santa Barbara, at 2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite 100, provides care for anyone experiencing the impact of life-threatening illnesses or grieving the death of a loved one.

Chairwoman Jill Nida welcomed supporters as guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and wine in the lush grounds with stone sculptures surrounding an inviting pool that provided a lovely setting for guests to sit and mingle while sampling cheeses, meats and fine breads.

Membership to Heart of Hospice includes differing benefit levels, such as Bouillabaisse Festival tickets, an annual President’s Luncheon and even an opportunity to “adopt” a Hospice of Santa Barbara program of choice for one year.

The donor’s support sustains a growing circle of compassionate and accessible hospice care in Santa Barbara.

“Hospice of Santa Barbara has been growing a lot in the last few years,and we really need to create a dedicated circle of support to help us do our work,” Executive Director Steve Jacobsen said. “And we want the folks to know what we’re doing, support us and help us dream and envision and implement in any way, whatever we need to do.”

As the second oldest hospice in the country, started in 1974, Hospice of Santa Barbara provides volunteer-based, professional, cost-free services made possible by generous supporters to meet the emotional, social and spiritual needs of more than 500 children and adults every month.

Services available to the community range from counseling to support groups, palliative care and care management. Hospice of Santa Barbara also provides community education with programs such as I Have a Friend, which pairs trained mentors with children who have recently lost a parent or sibling. The program has become a model for other organizations across the country.

All Hospice of Santa Barbara volunteers complete a comprehensive training program to receive certification and offer bereavement support, visits to patient homes or residential facilities with pets, and cherish lifelong memories working with patients to create audio recordings, journal writings and photo albums.

Professional counseling is also part of the services available with individual therapy by licensed experienced professionals for all ages.

Group and family sessions, plus work with teen groups in the high schools are also offered, including complementary therapies such as poetry, therapeutic art and massage.

The pursuit of neither curative treatments nor a physician referral will hold back patient participation in the programs as patients are not required to have a dire, short-term prognosis.

This free of charge care management is accessible from the comfort of home for evaluations, support and planning for short- and long-term needs.

“Hospice of Santa Barbara is chiefly supported by individual donors,” Thompson said. “We’re not government reimbursement, we’re not insurance reimbursement and we don’t charge for services.”

In addition to the patient, Hospice of Santa Barbara offers support for family members with assistance in navigating health-care systems, legal concerns and memorial service arrangements.

English- and Spanish-speaking volunteers and staff help ensure the best quality of life through a Plan of Care that comprises palliative care consultation services in cooperation with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care and the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.

It is this breadth of care and the ripple effect of the organization that have spread throughout the community, spreading a message of compassionate care by dedicated volunteers.

“Being here is coming full circle,” Dream Foundation President Thomas Rollerson said. “The Dream Foundation really was inspired by the work of Hospice of Santa Barbara, and it’s the love and care that they gave to me and my partner through the dying process that made me want to give back and to extend the work that they’re doing to care for the community. And so being here is very humbling and very much an honor.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.