Certain events in life are best shared with others. The death of a loved one is high on the list of things easier handled through sharing.
To help members of the community facing an imminent death, or dealing with a recent loss, is one of the roles of Hospice of the Central Peninsula.
Hospice is a nonprofit network of volunteers who give both comfort and respite. Volunteers help care for terminally ill patients, help family members address death and help with the grieving process after a loss.
Some volunteers expend energy because they have been helped by hospice, while others simply saw a need in the community and stepped forward to lend a hand, an ear or a shoulder as needed. Some have lost spouses, others children. All undergo 18 hours of specialized training.
"It was something I always wanted to do," said Sue Bezilla, who has volunteered for four years. "The first hour into the training, I knew that was where I wanted to be."
Hospice director Liz Schubert said patients are referred to the service by doctors, home health workers and clergy, among others. Schubert said the group never approaches anyone.
"We take our leads from the family," she said. "We don't just serve the dying person, we serve the family, too."
Hospice offers a variety of services, including arranging needed services, such as home health care, taking care of light chores for the family, providing educational materials on grieving and the end of life, filling in so caregivers can take a guilt-free break and lending a sympathetic ear. All hospice services are free.
"We try to offer physical, emotional, spiritual, psycho-social support," Schubert said. "If it wasn't for the volunteers, we wouldn't be able to offer what we offer."
Not only do the volunteers help families of the terminally ill, among their myriad tasks also are mediating support groups and helping with fund-raisers.
Volunteer Lotte Bogard said helping families deal with a loved one's illness or death can be emotionally draining.
"At the same time, it gives you some satisfaction that you've been able to offer some support," she said.
Schubert said volunteers will typically take some time off after someone they work extensively with dies.
"They usually call and let us know when they're available again."
Hospice offers services to the community at large, primarily through equipment and material lending.
Schubert said anyone is welcome to borrow equipment -- shower stools, walkers, canes, among other items -- or material from the hospice lending library. The library encompasses books, pamphlets, audio and videotapes on grief and bereavement-related themes.
HEAD:Community benefits through giving of hospice volunteers'It was something I always wanted to do. The first hour into the training, I knew that was where I wanted to be.'
--Sue Bezilla, four-year volunteer
HEAD:Roads also top agenda for Kenai City Council
BYLINE1:By JAY BARRETT
Despite being dominated by discussion about the state of trees in the cemetery, the Kenai City Council meeting Wednesday night did have a other items on its short agenda.
However, just prior to the council meeting, there was a meeting about the resurfacing of the Kenai Spur Highway between miles 10.6 and 22. Public Works director Keith Kornelis had several extra comments for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities project manager. Among them were:
n Filling the area between the sidewalk and curb with asphalt or concrete;
n Place all guardrails on the outside of the sidewalks, instead of between the sidewalks and curb. He said this would facilitate plowing the sidewalks of snow and keep pedestrians from having to walk in the street;
n Enlarge the Main Street intersection. Kornelis said the current straight and turn lanes are too narrow;
n Replace or improve the the traffic lights at Main Street and Forest Drive with "a new, modern system that functions properly";
n Improve visibility of east-bound traffic when turning on to the Spur Highway from South Spruce;
n Evaluate the storm drain system and improve drainage in several areas; and
n Kornelis suggested the four-lane portion of the Spur be extended past Redoubt Avenue or to the city limits to better reduce congestion.
He also said the Forest Drive and Redoubt Avenue paving project has gone out to bid. The long-awaited reconditioning of the roads is planned to begin this summer. Bids will be opened April 21.
In other council news:
n The draft livestock ordinance has been written and will be reviewed by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednes-day.
n The harbor has gone from an enterprise fund to a revenue fund in the budget this year. Mayor John Williams said this means instead of being operated as a stand alone business, it will be part of the city's overall operations.
"The reason for this is, of course, the diminishing returns of the commercial fishing industry," Williams said. "We're not getting the revenue like we used to."
The council scheduled three budget hearings -- April 18, 27 and May 2. The budget needs to be approved by June 10.
n The mayor, who sits on the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska's board, said the first official mission for cash is this week. He said it is with a group of students coming down from Anchorage for three days of training beginning today.
"And on Wednesday, we've got a charter coming in of their parents and other dignitaries who will fly a mission themselves," Williams said.
Williams said the center and the Alaska Federation of Natives have partnered to receive a $300,000 grant to build 12 hubs in the Bush so Challenger missions can be downloaded over the Internet and flown in remote villages. Bush schools will pay between $1,000 and $1,500 per mission, Williams said.
The next council meeting is April 19.
HEAD:University bill sparks threats
HEAD:Procedural rule bumps Legislature closer to ending
BYLINE1:By SVEND HOLST
BYLINE2:Morris news Service-Alaska
A bill to fund the University of Alaska has prompted talk of a state government shutdown and political blackmail.
House Bill 441 was taken up Friday for the second time in the House Finance Committee. Following its first hearing Thursday afternoon, wider implications of the measure spurred political sparring.
The bill would draw some $206 million out of a state savings account -- the Constitutional Budget Reserve -- commonly called the CBR. Using that money requires a three-quarter vote in the House and Senate, which means some Democrats have to go along with it. Such a vote to fill the annual fiscal gap in the state's budget has become an end-of-session bargaining chip.
The proposal has led to partisan wrangling.
"We are perfectly prepared to walk out of town without a CBR vote,'' said Rep. Eldon Mulder, co-chairman of the committee.
Asked if he was prepared for a state government shutdown that could occur without using the fund to fill the state's fiscal gap, the Anchorage Republican said there'd be time to deal with that later.
That vote has been the Democrats' end-of-session leverage to wring provisions out of the majority. Mulder said the GOP won't bend over the vote this year to fund programs the Democrats want funded.
"It wouldn't shut down until next spring,'' he said. "It could be a year. Our side is not going to be blackmailed by the minority to spend more money.''
Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage and House minority leader, said Mulder's use of the word blackmail didn't make much sense given the large size of the majority and the small size of the minority.
"We're not blackmailing anybody,'' Berkowitz said. "We don't have the power to blackmail them. We continue to hope the voice of civility and reason guides policy debate.''
After efforts to change the bill to reduce the amount of money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and remove language intended to set up measures of how the university performs, the bill moved out of committee. Reps. Ben Grussen-dorf, D-Sitka, and Bill Williams, R-Saxman, voted to keep the bill in the committee.
Among those lawmakers voting to let the bill move on, several expressed their desire to let the measure wait a while, until funding for other priorities are dealt with. They mentioned funding for rural power, basic education and state employees' contracts.
The bill would give the university a $34 million fiscal shot to be used in the next two years, which has drawn the support of university President Mark Hamil-ton. He's also happy with funding efforts coming out of the Senate, which would mean a bit less than Mulder's measure but would improve the university's bottom line significantly.
Wendy Redman, university spokeswoman, said either chamber's approach is fine with her.
"At this point, we really don't have a preference,'' Redman said. "We're just really pleased that we seem to have a commitment from each side.''
Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof and co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he's got a bill that would spread $8.5 million over vocational education programs in Alaska, including those run by the university.
Asked how Mulder's bill would be received in the Senate, Torgerson said it would be a tough sell.
"It has trouble in the Senate,'' he said. "It's additional spending from the CBR.''
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