Tompkins Co. nonprofit goes virtual raising nearly $500K for hospice care

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ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — COVID-19 has altered everyone’s 2020 plans, and the hospice care center in Tompkins and Cortland counties was no different. Although Hospicare & Palliative Care Services couldn’t do their normal swim across Cayuga Lake to raise money, they were still able to raise nearly $500,000 virtually. 

If it weren’t for the pandemic, about 300 women would have already swum across Cayuga Lake in order to raise money for Hospicare & Palliative Care Services located in Tompkins and Cortland counties. With COVID-19 canceling the swim, the group called Women Swimmin’ had to come up with another plan if they wanted to raise the money.

“So, what we did is we challenged the community,” Jennifer Gabriel, director of Development and Community Relations for Hospicare and Palliative Care Services. “We went back to that initial question, ‘What’s one thing you want to do this summer to celebrate life, to do something for yourself?’”

The community responded to that question in a big way, coming up with goals for themselves and asking for donations as they completed them.

“We had people who were accomplishing physical goals, running a certain number of miles every week,” Gabriel said. “But then we also had people accomplishing family or community-oriented goals. Picking up trash, for example, from a favorite hiking trail. Starting a meditation practice in honor of a loved one who died, those sorts of activities were also included.”

Over 300 people accomplished their goals, and the donations poured in. Despite canceling the original event of swimming across Cayuga Lake, Women Swimmin’ was still able to raise $416,000 for hospice care in Tompkins and Cortland counties. 

Gabriel said, “The importance of this event to the financial well being of hospicare really can’t be understated. So, about 80% of our services are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances, and the other 20% comes from the generosity of the community. So this event, in effect, raises almost 10% of what hospicare needs every year just to keep our doors open and our patients served with exceptional care.”

That care doesn’t just include physical care, but also spiritual care, music therapy and grief support.

“So, study after study has shown that individuals who are in hospice care at the end of their life have better quality of life,” Gabriel said. “They’re able to spend more time with their families, build more memories and just be ultimately more comfortable as they transition into the very last stages of death.”

The women plan to be back in the water next year swimming across Cayuga Lake, but if you wanted to help the cause this year and donate to Hospicare & Palliative Care Services, click here.


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