When someone we love nears their final days of life, the journey becomes a collaborative endeavor. There are stages of acceptance, and stages of making sure that a loved one gets the best care possible. For Michelle Maison of Barrington Hills, the journey she took at the end of her mother’s struggle with cancer stays with her to this day.
“I remember the night she passed away like it was yesterday. The doctors had given her a few weeks but she did not make it through the night,” says Maison. “Luckily, I decided to stay with her—more for my needs than hers. It was very comforting to my father and family that hospice was available to us. The end-of-life for our loved ones is an incredibly difficult and life-changing time.”
That was 22 years ago. Seven years later, Maison received a handwritten invitation from neighbor George Yapp inviting her to a gala fundraiser for a local nonprofit hospice and palliative care agency.
“I had tried to volunteer as a caregiver a couple years after my mother passed but could not get myself out of the car to go in. It was too emotional for me,” she explains. “But I went to the gala 15 years ago and have attended most of them since. I love the warmth and elegance of the event. I may not have the strength to be a patient volunteer but I can be part of an event committee—especially surrounded by people with so many gifts for helping people live their final days with grace and dignity.”
On June 23, Maison is stepping into a lead volunteer role, chairing a committee to host The Ruby Gala—a special anniversary fundraiser (with sparkling rose Champagne donated by Veuve Cliquot) for the three Chicago area palliative care providers that founded JourneyCare. Held at the beautiful Barrington Hills estate of Wayne and Nan Kocourek, the elegant event will mark the 40th anniversary of the organization’s mission to provide care for those who need it, regardless of their ability to pay.
“One of my favorite JourneyCare people, Julie Linnekin, reached out to me this spring asking for help from a group of us. We met with her and I realized I was in position to make more of a difference this year by taking on a leadership role,” explains Maison, who moved to the Barrington area in 1971 and watched her own parents give back to the community. “I have been involved in many charities over the years and believe strongly that people should take on different roles to keep the event fresh every year. I’m excited to chair this year with an amazing committee of very strong and talented women.”
The volunteer committee for The Ruby Gala includes Stephanie Cecola, Josie Croll, Michele Evans, Colleen Konicek Hannigan, Lynda Bollman, and Karen Trzaska. However, Maison says the event will be different from others. “JourneyCare provides a unique situation where individuals from JourneyCare partner with the committee, which always results in an even more special and beautiful event.”
One of those leaders is Joseph P. Matty, president of JourneyCare Foundation. Matty joined Maison at her Barrington Hills home during a recent photo shoot, sharing his perspective on what this event, and what the Barrington community, means to the nonprofit organization.
“The entities that founded JourneyCare have been taking care of palliative and hospice care patients for 40 years. This gala is another example of how our Barrington area philanthropists have stepped up to ensure that no patient is left without the compassionate care they need,” says Matty, emphasizing that of all the volunteers and supporters the foundation has throughout Chicago, Barrington volunteers always go above and beyond. “We are blessed with our Barrington philanthropists and their ability to help each other, to always say ‘yes’, and to step up.”
Matty says the connection to the Kocoureks as hosts of this year’s event came through George Yapp, the same Barrington supporter who engaged Maison 15 years ago.
“The Kocoureks have been longtime friends and leaders at JourneyCare,” he adds. “They were asked by one of JourneyCare’s pioneers, George Yapp, to consider hosting our signature gala for 2018.”
Maison says she is excited to have the support of the Kocoureks and is impressed at the couple’s generosity. “The sparkling part of the evening will also be aided by a Veuve Cliquot Rose Champagne toast to celebrate 40 years of support. It is Madame Cliquot’s 200th anniversary for Rose Champagne. There will be many other surprises going forward as well.”
Veuve Cliquot is just one of the highly pedigreed partners for this evening. M.J. Miller & Co. Jewelry of Barrington is donating a fine piece to be auctioned. Other partners include Kim Duchossois, Entertaining Company, Paolo Cascio Luxury & Lifestyle Photography, Chicago Polo, and Sayre & Jones Auctioneers. New features for this anniversary year include a special Ruby Raffle before the live auction gets started (tickets are $100 with live auction package prizes) and live entertainment from the Brass From the Past band.
“The Barrington community always shows up with ‘bells on’, ready to make a difference. The energy of the group never ceases to inspire,” says Maison. “Raising money for a cause like this is a big responsibility. The patients and the patients’ families are counting on their supporters. I love the fact the community donates with such a passion.”
With that in mind, and in consideration for the demand on the generosity of Barrington area philanthropists, this event marks a change in JourneyCare’s fundraising initiatives moving forward. Maison says after The Ruby Gala, the fundraiser will become a biennial event, making each one that more special.
“As of this year, it will become every other year,” she explains. “I wish every charity would do this actually. There are so many worthy charities in the area and it eventually becomes impossible to attend everything. It keeps it fresh and inspired. We are so fortunate to be part of such a generous and philanthropic community. This is going to be a night to remember.”
The three hospice and palliative care providers that founded JourneyCare have been serving the suburban Chicago area for 40 years. Here is a snapshot of what they do and how they help patients live with integrity and on their own terms.
JourneyCare was founded as an agency in 2015 but the nonprofit healthcare providers that comprise this organization have been serving the Chicago area for 40 years. Horizon Hospice & Palliative Care, JourneyCare, and Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter came together three years ago to offer more access to palliative, supportive, and end-of-life care to patients and families across 10 counties.
JourneyCare is now the largest nonprofit hospice and palliative care provider in Illinois, making it among the top 10 largest hospices in the nation. In 2016 alone, JourneyCare cared for nearly 12,000 patients, including:
• 7,409 adult hospice patients
• 4,153 adult palliative care patients
• 120 pediatric hospice patients
• 262 pediatric palliative care patients
The Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter office is located in Barrington, where JourneyCare has a devoted crew of philanthropic support from the community. The Ruby Gala on Saturday, June 23, is the agency’s largest fundraising event of the year.
For more information about JourneyCare, visit journeycare.org.
The Ruby Gala will be held on Saturday, June 23, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne and Nan Kocourek. For sponsorship opportunities and more information, call 224-770-2525 or visit journeycare.org.