HARLINGEN — From individuals to businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has created financial hardships for many people and entities, especially nonprofit organizations.
Sunshine Haven, Inc., a licensed special care facility that provides 24/7 end-of-life comfort care for patients, launched a campaign that aims to raise $100,000 to help keep its doors open.
Located in Olmito, the facility serves terminally diagnosed patients from all over Cameron County and is free of all costs to the patients and families.
According to Sunshine Haven, Inc. executive director Veronica Lucio, it’s the only special care facility in the county and is one of 11 in Texas.
Just 10 days after launching the campaign on June 1, Sunshine Haven, Inc. was able to raise $20,000 thanks to the help of the facility’s founding board member and longtime supporter Laurie Howell.
Upon learning of the facility’s fundraising efforts, Howell made a $10,000 match donation toward the campaign.
“She’s just an incredible person,” Lucio said. “We’re just so grateful for her and to have someone like her who has done so much for the community.”
Howell stated in a press release that it was her special connection to Sunshine Haven, Inc. and the experiences she made as a board member that inspired her to make the donation.
In 1997, Howell moved to Brownsville to volunteer as a hospice nurse and met Sunshine Haven, Inc.’s first registered nurse and founder Lois del Castillo.
“She (Lois del Castillo) said I’ve initiated a group of people, all for different reasons, but you’re the only one that has been through hospice and understands what it’s like and why — it’s important for people to have a comfortable place to pass,” Howell stated in the press release. “So, I went on the board as the community person to represent people that had experienced hospice.”
The need for donations
Sunshine Haven, Inc. works with partnering hospice agencies and provides end-of-life comfort care for patients in a home-like environment.
“We interact with patients and the families and we support them through the grieving process and the end of life,” Lucio said. “It’s really beautiful and sacred work. We all consider it sacred here.”
According to Lucio, due to COVID-19, Sunshine Haven, Inc.’s grant funding and donations had been reduced significantly, and the nonprofit would need a large community effort in donations to keep the organization open.
“We know that we have a lot of Harlingen families out there who have experienced our care for their loved ones who passed away here,” Lucio said. “We just want to get word out to them that we’re in need, but we’re also doing very well with this fundraiser that we’re doing and we want to engage them and ask them to consider supporting us. Anything helps.”
Ways to support the facility
Sunshine Haven, Inc. will continue its fundraising efforts now though Nov. 6, which is the facility’s 20th anniversary.
On June 26 and 27, the facility will host a garage sale starting at 8 a.m. at the Christ Church of the Valley, which is located in Brownsville at 2900 Dr. Hugh Emerson Rd.
Items can be donated to the garage sale at the Christ of Church on June 19, 22 or 24 between 2 to 3 p.m.
Monetary tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.sunshinehaveninc.org or by mailing a check to Sunshine Haven, Inc. at 7105 West Lakeside Blvd. Olmito, Texas 78575.
According to Lucio, the campaign raised $20,833 within the first 10 days it launched.
“That just goes to show that people in Cameron County know the valuable service that we have,” Lucio said. “We’ve even received donations from other states because their loved ones have passed away here.”
Lucio said the facility is greatly encouraged by the traction in donations they’ve seen the campaign receive so far.
As a nonprofit organization that doesn’t charge anyone for the facility’s services, Lucio said she hopes the campaign continues to receive donations.
“We need the continual help of others even as I’m writing grants and looking for other support for us, but everything is going really well,” Lucio said. “We’re just super grateful for the community that has rallied around us.”