8-Week ABODE Academy
Whether you’re interested in learning more about death and dying, you’re in the hospice field and want to partner with us or you’re already an ABODE volunteer – or considering volunteering – this is a wonderful way to become acquainted (or reacquainted) with ABODE and all we do – and how we can support one another’s success.
From Startup to Success: The ABODE Story
Speakers: ABODE Founders Patsy and Edwin Sasek, ABODE Executive Director Mary Thorsby
What began as a vision to create a community to care for the dying has resulted in a beautiful three-bedroom home staffed by end-of-life experts, where those in their last months, weeks and days can leave this world with dignity and grace. ABODE Contemplative Care for the Dying staff and volunteers have cared for more than 200 Guests since opening our doors in 2014. We have touched the lives of countless others in and around San Antonio. In this special session, Patsy and Edwin recall the challenges and heart-warming rewards of creating ABODE, and how we fit in with the end of life movement. Mary shares the practical details of how our community of compassion, love and support continues to thrive today.
Contemplative Care and Our Mission, Vision and Values
Speakers: Denise Miner-Williams and Deborah Hanus
Contemplative care is at the heart of our work. We think of contemplative care as being fully present, truly listening to one another and being intentional in everything we do. It means being aware of feelings that are simple or complex, remaining nonjudgmental and creating a space where not knowing what to do or what to say is acceptable. From the way we turn a Guest in bed, give sips of water, listen to stories, greet families and meet people “where they are,” our contemplative approach is one of the many special features of the care we offer at ABODE. Join Denise and Deb as they share ABODE’s contemplative foundation, intentions and practices, and please feel free to share your own!
How ABODE Partners with Hospices and Guest Families
Speakers: Christus Hospice RN Beverly Tuomala and ABODE Executive Director Mary Thorsby
ABODE Guests come to us through our hospice partners – more than 100 agencies throughout San Antonio. Among the many collaborative aspects of our partnership: what to look for in a potential Guest, how to ensure we’re the right match, who’s responsible for what, the role families and friends can play and how we continue to learn from one another as we help those who need us most. In this session, we’ll share our hospice agreement and guest agreement – and the unique challenges we face in our desire to ensure everyone’s experience is a positive one.
How to BE with Someone Who is Dying
Speakers: ABODE Volunteers Peg Armstrong and Ed Alderette
To sit on the edge of a bed with our loved one’s hand in ours, to gently stroke their hair and look into their eyes as we say good-bye – the experience of truly being with someone who is dying requires a willingness to stand at the edge of our fears and anxieties. Yet having the opportunity to say good-bye is such a gift – to us and to our Guests. Longtime ABODE volunteers Peg and Ed have sat with many ABODE Guests as they complete their journeys, including with Ed’s wife Carolyn. In this session, they share their experiences and answer questions about the gentle art – and the gift – of letting go.
Signs and Symptoms of Approaching Death
Speakers: Compassus Medical Director Ben Getter and Christus Hospice RN Beverly Tuomala
Each person’s death is as unique as their life. There are, however, some common symptoms that typically occur in the months, weeks, days and hours as death nears. A natural withdrawal from the normal activities of life, for example. Increased hours of sleep. Decreased interest in foods or fluids. Changes in skin color, breathing and the ability to swallow. Find out more about what changes to expect – and how best to help – as our Guests move through life’s final transition.
Thursday, Aug. 27
Special Moments We’ll Never Forget
What’s it like to provide 24/7 care for Guests in their final stretch of life? What do we love most about our jobs – and what parts remain the most challenging? Which particular Guests have touched our hearts so deeply that they’ve changed our own lives? Here’s a rare opportunity to hear from ABODE’s four End of Life Navigators as we exchange our favorite stories of helping to “walk our Guests home.”
- Thursday, Sept. 3
Grief Work: Past and Present
Speaker: ABODE Founder Edwin Sasek
In our lives, with family, with our communities, individually, and in concert with the moment we are breathing in and out with all of life, there is much to be aware of, to be grateful for. And, if we pay attention, there is much to grieve, in the center of mind, heart and soul. We are touched by this grief, without warning and feel compelled to notice the suffering and lament that we carry – and, grief that is submerged, hidden away, unwanted, unrecognized, unknown, that is part of us, our human life, our lives with other creatures, the Earth. As we grieve, so are we better able to be compassionate and companion others in the midst of transitions, like the Guests and their loved ones at ABODE. How do we ask the questions, carry the burdens, pay attention, release and let go? Join Edwin as he leads us in an exploration and introduction to the necessary work of grief.
Thursday, Sept. 10
Volunteer and Board Opportunities
Speakers: ABODE Volunteer Coordinator Adriana Garza and Executive Director Mary Thorsby
Ready to get involved? We need you! If you love spreading the word about ABODE, raising money, participating on a board or committee, helping us run the house, visiting with our Guests and their families – or a little bit of everything – there’s something for everyone to do at ABODE. Join us as Adriana and Mary step through the requirements – and the rewards – of becoming an active volunteer in our ABODE community.