LAFAYETTE, COLORADO – In 2016, TRU Community Care, founded in 1976 as the first Colorado hospice, is celebrating a major milestone.
This year marks the hospice service’s 40th anniversary, meaning that the nonprofit has been caring for those who are dying and their families for four decades. In celebration, TRU is planning two exciting 40th anniversary events throughout the year and sharing part of its history with the hospice community. June 26 will bring a 40th celebration party and groundbreaking for a new elder care and grief services facility, and TRU’s annual fundraiser, PIZZAZ!, will cap off the milestone with style on Sept. 17.
The Pioneers of the Early Years
TRU Community Care began as Boulder County Hospice in 1976, when one of the organization’s founders was asked, “Have you ever thought about starting a hospice?”
The question was posed to Beau Bohart Rezendes, who was finishing her Ph.D. dissertation on death and dying when she asked Dr. Darvin Smith what he thought could be done to help people who were dying or aged. His thought-provoking response was the beacon that pointed the way for Bohart Rezendes. Before long, she was talking to anyone who would listen about starting a hospice in Boulder County.
Among those she approached were Kathryn Riddle-Oakes (then called Kitty Riddle), a well-known community organizer with vast experience in volunteer activities; Dr. Alan Snyder, an internist/oncologist at the Boulder Medical Center; and Karin Sobeck, who had just completed her master’s degree in mental health nursing and was holding workshops on death and dying across the country. Along with Marcia Lattanzi-Licht, a respected psychiatric nurse who was involved in grief-related work, this team of professionals added their talents and energy to the quest to bring hospice care to Boulder County.
“I think all of us came with the vision that there were better ways to care for people who were dying and grieving and that there were clear gaps in services,” said Lattanzi-Licht.
Taking the Next Steps with Hospice
Filling those gaps would prove to be a challenging mission. In the beginning, the group met in living rooms. They stored donations in a cigar box. They paid their own way to hospice care conferences on pain management. Despite such humble beginnings, they never wavered in their steadfast commitment to the cause, and by early 1977, Boulder County Hospice incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Not surprisingly, its all-volunteer management team was comprised of the dedicated professionals who have come to be known as the nonprofit’s founders as well.
The organization’s first patient received hospice care in June of 1977. And thanks to one provocative question and five remarkable visionaries, the organization has grown to become TRU Community Care, offering hospice, palliative care, grief services, and soon TRU PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.) PACE represents an opportunity to create a broader continuum of care for frail elders in Boulder and southwest Weld Counties in northern Colorado. The opening of the PACE site, which also will house TRU Hospice Grief Support, will be a chance to celebrate with the local community the years of service TRU has provided.
As TRU Community Care’s visionary founders look back on the organization’s past and to its future, they all agree – a dream has been fulfilled.