11/30/17 6:00am
11/30/2017 6:00 AM

With chalk in hand, six women walked up to the wooden plank before them and wrote one or two words that described how they were feeling in the present moment.

Terms like “on hold,” “stuck” and “brokenhearted” were among the scribbled phrases.


08/30/12 9:00pm
08/30/2012 9:00 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Campers at Camp Good Grief in Southold.

Camp Good Grief, the free five-day youth bereavement program now in its 16th season, came to the North Fork for the first time this summer and hopes it’s found a permanent home at Peconic Dunes Camp in Southold.

“I think we’re very much looking forward to making this our base of operations if possible,” said Michael Pitcher, chairman of the board for the camp’s sponsor, East End Hospice.

“It’s a fantastic facility and I think our staff would love not having to reinvent the wheel every year because they’re at a different spot,” Mr. Pitcher added.

Camp Good Grief is designed to ease the pain suffered by young people who have lost family members. Previously located on Shelter Island the camp, and the bereavement care it offers, are free.

“That’s why we have to raise so much money for the camp,” Mr. Pitcher said. “In this crazy medical world, no insurance provides money for bereavement care, but it’s an essential part of what we do and I think offering it for free is a key part of doing it right.”

Campers Thomas Shannon and Brenna O’Reilly, both 11, said the camp has helped them work and play through their grief.

“Basically you come here to try to get over the grief,” Thomas said. “You go to small group and you talk about what happened and how it happened and when it happened and that’s basically it. It’s helped me a lot. My dad had a heart attack while he was sleeping and died in April. I miss him a lot and talk to him all the time. Whenever nobody’s looking or I think he’s sending me a sign, I’m always like, ‘Come on, Dad, really? Really?’ ”

In addition to attending small group and art therapy sessions, this year’s campers also swam, kayaked, played sports and did arts and crafts.

Brenna said her favorite part of the experience was the new friends she made after her grandfather died in March. “It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s helped a lot.”
Mr. Pitcher said the camp deliberately places the youths in small groups.

“Small groups give kids an opportunity to open up because they’re surrounded by kids that have gone through the exact same thing instead of feeling like an outsider,” he said.

Camp director Sarah Zimmerman said small group and art therapy sessions are broken up by recreational activities to tailor a bit-by-bit grieving process and that being a day camp instead of overnight is an important part of that.

“We believe an overnight camp wouldn’t work because the kids do a lot of work during the day and even though we make sure that it’s balanced with fun and entertainment, they really need to go home to their safe places and their pillows at the end of the day,” Ms. Zimmerman said. “We had a kid staying with friends on Shelter Island and he had to drop out because he just didn’t feel comfortable enough. There are some overnight bereavement camps out there, but I can’t imagine it works.”

She added that although changes have been made at Camp Good Grief over the years, such as the color-coding of 13 different groups of kids between the ages of 4 and 17, the program has remained the same.

Ms. Zimmerman said day four, when campers are asked to bring in a memento or photograph of their lost loved ones for the “memory” theme, is the most emotional.

Mr. Pitcher agreed and said while volunteering on Shelter Island more than 10 years ago, he noticed a boy about 9 or 10 years old who wasn’t paying much attention to the group session.

“Someone said to take him over to the ball field, so I threw him over my shoulder and took him out there and when we got there he asked if I wanted to see his dad,” Mr. Pitcher recalled. “I said, ‘Sure,’ and he pulled out a picture of a young man in a Greenport High School football jersey. It was just heart-breaking.”

The staff consists of one person for every two campers, including 90 volunteers and art therapy interns from NYU.

“We also have youth volunteers. A lot of our campers go on to become youth volunteers,” Ms. Zimmerman said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

[email protected]

03/25/12 9:18am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Chris Sachse of Center Moriches sings 'Magic Carpet Ride.'

A local singing event that has raised about $10,000 for East End Hospice during its first two years returned for a third Saturday.

Sing East End 2012 is an event where people buy a ticket to either watch other people singing or sing themselves on stage at the historic Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue in downtown Riverhead.

Doug Wald of Riverhead, a senior director of Internet marketing for CA Technologies, as well as an accomplished Karaoke singer himself, organizied the event, in which people sing Karaoke for charity.

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He became a fan of karaoke only a few years ago, and now knows more than 150 songs. He became a fan of East End Hospice, a Westhampton Beach-based nonprofit that provides end-of-life care, when his late mother fell ill several years ago.

“This is my way of giving back, for all the things they did for my mother and my family,” he said.

A number of local restaurants donated food, including Farm Country Kitchen, CK’s Deli and Catering, Digger O’Dells, Jerry and the Mermaid, Buoy One Seafood, Carlo’s of Riverhead, Signature Bagels, and Country Rotisserie, Mr. Wald said.

Sing East End 2012 was hosted by Ginny Naugles, a hostess at Outerbanks and Lobster Roll, and James Ruggerio, a dining host at Jerry and the Mermaid on East Main Street.

The music was provided by Mike “Flip” Gadzinski of Flipside Karaoke, a host at Jerry and the Mermaid and Cody’s.

06/23/11 6:02am
06/23/2011 6:02 AM

An artist's rendering of the new building.

For the first time since its founding in 1986, East End Hospice will be able to construct a facility that will offer inpatient services, thanks to a contribution of six acres of waterfront property in Quogue.

Elmo Monfrede, who died in January 2000, was a single man with no living relatives to inherit his property, according to hospice president and CEO Priscilla Ruffin. Speaking at a press conference at East End Hospice offices in Westhampton Beach last Thursday, Ms. Ruffin said Mr. Monfrede’s longtime friendship with one of the group’s founding board members, Dorothy Savage, led him to will the land to the organization.

“He very much wanted to see [the land] used for hospice purposes,” Ms. Ruffin said.

In a somewhat stealthy fundraising effort over the past year, East End Hospice, which mainly cares for the terminally ill in their homes, has brought in $4 million toward an estimated $10 million goal. Construction is estimated to cost $8 million and the plan is to use the remaining $2 million to start an endowment to maintain the unit.

Architect Roger Ferris of Roger Ferris & Partners LLC of Westport, Conn., described the planned facility as “a village” with eight individual patient rooms, each with a full view of the pond and daily sunsets.

Each room will open onto a private deck and vaulted ceilings will provide a sunny atmosphere, he said.

The facility will include a sunroom and library as well as transitional space outside each patient room for family members to gather. There will be a full kitchen for use by families and staff and a spa room with a soaking tub.

Skylights will illuminate the main hallway, Mr. Ferris said.

Hospice services are covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as by some private insurers, but no patient is turned away for lack of money, Ms. Ruffin said. East End Hospice does depend on contributions and fundraising efforts to augment payments for the services it renders to terminally ill patients and their families, she said.

The inpatient facility will provide “a really beautiful, bucolic spot” with appropriate care, she said.

The organization had to pass muster with the New York State Department of Health and gain zoning approval to operate an inpatient hospice program in Quogue. It still faces site plan approval before construction can get under way, according to campaign steering committee chairman L. Wesley Lowd.

“It’s a hard time to raise money,” Ms. Ruffin said. “We’re grateful to be as far along as we are.”

Board chairman W. Michael Pitcher said an inpatient facility has long been a dream for East End Hospice, which serves 500 to 600 patients a year in Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island, Fishers Island, Southampton, East Hampton and eastern Brookhaven.

“When the property was donated, that really kicked it into reality mode,” he said.

About half the patients the organization serves are from the North Fork, Ms. Ruffin said.

There is even a group of pilots who volunteer their time to transport patients in need of hospice care from Fishers Island, Mr. Pitcher said.

With families scattered around the world these days, end-of-life care becomes very difficult for many, Ms. Ruffin said, adding that patients often live alone or with relatives who can’t provide them with full-time and appropriately safe care.

About 70 percent of terminally ill patients are able to receive hospice care at home, but 30 percent spend their final days up in a hospital or nursing home in their final days, Ms. Ruffin said.

To gain approval from the state health department, East End Hospice had to limit the facility to eight rooms to maintain a homey feel, Ms. Ruffin said.

On Saturday night, June 25, East End Hospice will host its summer gala, “A Night in Venice,” at the Sandacres Estate in Quogue to launch the next phase of its building fund drive. For ticket information, call the development office at 288-7080.

[email protected]

East End Hospice
‘A Night in Venice’
Sandacres Estate in Quogue
Saturday, June 25
To benefit inpatient building fund drive
Call 288-7080 for tickets

03/14/11 8:02am
03/14/2011 8:02 AM

The second Sing East End 2011 Open Karaoke Benefit was held at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in downtown Riverhead Saturday night. The event raises money for East End Hospice.

This is the second year the benefit was held, said event organizer Doug Wald, who is hoping to make it an annual event.

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JOHN NEELY PHOTO | Riverhead's Kristen Boden sang "I Will Always Love You."