TisBest Profiles: Susan Messina, Director of Communications and Special
Projects at National Hospice Foundation
Relationship to TisBest: National Hospice Foundation is one of the organizations that TisBest represents and to date they have received more than $7,000 as a result of our partnership.
If you had to describe the core of your organization in a Tweet what would it say?
Hospice helps people live fully until the end and then die at peace and in comfort. NHF works nationally to support that mission.
What anecdote do you draw on when you need inspiration on a particularly difficult day?
Lots of people leave money to charity in their wills but there was something extra special about the legacy that one woman left to the National Hospice Foundation. You see, while she was facing the end of her life with the support of her local hospice she knew she wanted to give something back in honor of the incredible care she was receiving from her hospice team. She changed her will to include hospice. She knew, as she was making that change, that she had only a small time left to live. To think that she spent part of her last months on the administrative details necessary to leave a bequest speaks volumes about how important her hospice care was to her. I contrast that with another woman. She is still very much alive; she is a member of our Legacy Society, which means she has put us in her will. Her explanation for her bequest is very different. She doesn’t even know anyone who has had hospice care! But she knows what it is and looking ahead, as a single woman with no children, she is very glad to know hospice will be there for her when she needs care at the end of her life. She wanted to make sure to make one last donation to NHF after she passes away. These two women for me embody what we are about: creating opportunities for people across the country to support hospice care, the best quality care at the end of life.
One quote – famous or not – that you think of frequently and why you
“There’s a world of pain out there.” This is a quote I once I heard from a funeral director at a funeral director’s conference. That sounds depressing, but to me it’s just true. There’s a lot of pain out there in the world, and it’s our job as humans to try to diminish it, or give others the tools to cope with it. Hospice does both.
If you were given one superpower AND one wish to help your organization, what would they be and why?
My superpower would be super speed. With the ability to zoom on my own two feet from city to city, I would become an icon for runners. My goal would be to encourage runners to participate in our athletic fundraising program, Run to Remember. Through this program people can raise money for hospice while memorializing someone they loved. Right now Run to Remember is relatively small; we don’t yet have the brand recognition of some other major fundraising efforts. However, with my superpower I would be easily able to draw attention to it and encourage hundreds of thousands of hospice supporters to participate and raise millions of dollars for our work to make high-quality hospice care accessible to all who need it. I wish that I could shatter myths about hospice as easily as I could shatter a pane of glass. One myth is that hospice means “giving up” and so patients and families are sometimes reluctant to participate, even though hospice care could improve their lives a great deal. Another myth is that hospice is only for the person with the illness, which is not true; family members also benefit tremendously from having the hospice team join in the care. Hospice is about living life as fully as possible until the end and relieving the burdens on family caregivers so they can be as emotionally present as possible to the dying person. NHF works to educate people about the power of hospice care to transform the end-of-life experience.