Needing helping hands: Hospice asks for donations in time of COVID-19

As part of their five-month fundraising campaign, Sunshine Haven held a drive-thru donation event Saturday at the Brownsville Event Center where dozens of community members donated several items needed for the facility, such as toilet paper, soap and even cash.

Executive Director Veronica I. Lucio said the facility is in great need right now because it was severly impacted financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sunshine Haven has been serving the community for 28 years and it hopes to continue to do so for many more years.

“Sunshine Haven was severely impacted financially because of COVID-19 and we had a great shortfall to our budget and that directly affects how many rooms and beds I can provide for patients who are passing away and need our services,” she said.

“We provide free services to care for the patients who come to us. They are referred by other hospice agencies and we do not charge them, we do not charge the family. We don’t even charge Medicare, Medicaid and we are not paid by the hospice agencies.”

Lucio said 75 percent of their income comes from private donations and the other 25 percent comes from grants. The fundraising campaign called “Caring for the caregivers” will continue until November. Sunshine Haven provides high quality residential palliative care to the dying using nursing assistants and volunteers supervised by licensed personnel. They serve Cameron County, Hidalgo County and Willacy County.

“Taking care of a loved one who is passing away inside your home is not only financially exhausting because you need to find and pay for caregivers around the clock, but it is also emotionally and physically difficult because of the needs of the patients. What we do is that we provide a free, safe home-like environment for the patient to pass away in dignity,” she said. “We want them to achieve the highest quality of life while they’re with us.”

Brownsville City Commissioner Nurith Galonsky, who attended the event, said Sunshine Haven provides a very unique service, especially during these COVID-19 times, such as allowing visitors in the facility.

“They provide a very unique service in that it provides hospice care for families who are going through a difficult time and now during the coronavirus pandemic they are actually letting family members go in and have contact with their loved ones, which is very unique and much needed, especially in these times,” she said. “Anything we can do to support them is a good thing.”

Iselle Perez, from Vermillion Restaurant, said it is important for business owners to help the community as much as they can. She said we all need to help each other out, especially during the pandemic.

“It is very important to donate money to a cause that not only benefits all the community but benefits our family as well,” she said. “Being a business owner, it is very important that we help the community. The Vermillion restaurant donates a lot, whether it is time or other resources that we have in hand. We feel that it is very important to participate with the community.”

George Olivo, president of the board for Sunshine Haven, said this year the fundraising events have been very different due to the pandemic, but that he hopes the community comes together and supports the facility.

“It is very important that we come together as a community,” he said.

“We are here to help everyone and we know that these are very trying times right now and it is very hard for a person who has a terminal disease or illness and we are here to support in every way we can.”

To donate, visit sunshinehaveninc.org or call (956) 350-8400.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com