Entrepreneur Lisa Hawkins, who sponsored my talk in Tupelo, wasn’t as interested in showing me her 200,000+ sf Room to Room Furniture Showroom as she was in showing me the Sanctuary Hospice House, “Room to Room is where I make a living, but Sanctuary House is my passion.”
It wasn’t hard to pick out the new $1.7 million (all done with donations) hospice house. It is a bright, inviting yellow on the outskirts of town. The front lobby had a family feel to it.
Lisa told me, “When Jack Riley died, his wife decided to have all memorials go toward a hospice house. No one had talked about such a facility until then. In November of 2000 a group of women got together and decided they were going to build it even though nothing like this had ever been done in the country.”
The effort required congressional approval to qualify for hospice funding. Operations began in February, 2006 and guessing from the memorial plaques in an outdoor gazebo, I’d guess that over 100 have already passed through the facility.
Lisa told me, “We have 16 beds and they are all occupied. We’ve got 20 people on a waiting list. We’ve got a little girl of 9 to someone 102 out here right now. We’ve had 72 physicians refer to us from 21 counties in the state. We’ve had very rich people and also some who are destitute. Death is a cruel equalizer.”
I’ve never seen such a facility nor such passion as I saw in Lisa and several of the other volunteers at the Sanctuary. It is amazing what can be accomplished if you have enough passion.