The word “hero” gets bandied about quite a bit, and it’s likely a word that true heroes are uncomfortable with.

I’m sure that’s the case with this year’s Heroes of Hospice of Santa Barbara, who are heroes for our organization in every sense of the word.

From our standpoint, we select individuals in three categories that represent the basic functioning of Hospice of Santa Barbara — volunteers, professionals and philanthropists.

More specifically, we could not do our work if it not for our many compassionate and dedicated volunteers who are at the heart of all we do.

Without professional partners such as doctors and other health-care industry professionals, we could not make important links to clients and patients in our community. And without the generosity of donors and philanthropists, we could not provide our services for free to everyone who needs them.

Outstanding community volunteers and supporters of all walks of life come together each day to assist Hospice of Santa Barbara in its mission to provide free care for anyone experiencing the impact of life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one.

HSB recognizes three incredible individuals who have lent their time and talents to make a significant difference, both to the organization and to the community by advancing compassionate end-of-life care in Santa Barbara.

I’d like to quickly touch on each of our three heroes for 2015.

Stephen Hosea, M.D., Professional Award

Locally, Dr. Stephen Hosea became the point man for the battle against AIDS in the 1980s and ’​90s, and Hospice of Santa Barbara is thrilled to honor this pioneer in end-of-life education.

While untrained in providing hospice at the time of the AIDS outbreak, Dr. Hosea turned to the late HSB CEO Gail Rink, who the doctor says helped him through these dark times.

HSB has relied on Dr. Hosea’s expertise as well, and in 2002 he was named medical adviser for the HSB board of directors.

Since then he has been an important guiding light for our organization.

Catherine Remak, Volunteer Award

With more than two decades of experience in radio broadcast, Catherine Remak has one of the most recognizable voices around.

The co-host of the long-running Gary and Catherine in the Morning on KLITE, Catherine has served on the HSB board of directors and volunteered her services as an emcee for the annual HSB Light Up A Life ceremonies over the last 15 years.

Catherine first came in contact with HSB in 2001 to utilize its services following the death of her father.

She was struck by the services Hospice brings free of charge, and with help from HSB, Catherine was able to make it through a dark time in her life.

Alan Miller, accepting the Philanthropist Award presented posthumously to H. Guy DiStefano

Former Hospice of Santa Barbara Foundation trustee Alan Miller accepted the Heroes of Hospice award on behalf of the late Hector Guy DiStefano, who left a substantial endowment to the HSB Foundation.

A certified public accountant, Miller has been operating his own firm since 1980. Among his clients was DiStefano, who had no children and left his fortune to several charities and nonprofit organizations, including HSB.

DiStefano’s wealth was primarily from stock inherited by his late wife, Doris DiStefano.

“I am not the hero,” Miller said. “He is.”

The generous gift has allowed HSB to continue on its mission to provide compassionate care to the dying and bereavement counseling, making Miller and DiStefano true Heroes of Hospice.

In honoring these heroes, we extend our recognition to all of those whose time, commitment and generosity make Hospice of Santa Barbara a very special organization that provides “compassionate care, freely given.”

Be well.

— David Selberg is CEO and president of Hospice of Santa Barbara. Hospice of Santa Barbara hosts a free Community Five Wishes Workshop on the third Thursday of each month, and will mail the Five Wishes document at no cost. Click here for more information, or call 805.563.8820. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.