2017-04-06 / Community

House of Hope offers end-of-life care

Family finds healing at hospice
By Stephanie Bertholdo


POWERFUL MOMENTS—Above, Kerrin Turrow of Moorpark adds her thoughts to the “Before I Die” wall during an Our Community House of Hope fundraiser March 24 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. At right, Ken and Harriet Ehrlich of Lake Sherwood look over auction items up for bid at the event. POWERFUL MOMENTS—Above, Kerrin Turrow of Moorpark adds her thoughts to the “Before I Die” wall during an Our Community House of Hope fundraiser March 24 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. At right, Ken and Harriet Ehrlich of Lake Sherwood look over auction items up for bid at the event. As Jerome Snyder faced the end of his life, he was able to spend it surrounded by his family in a home that provided care, kindness and, unexpectedly, some healing of old family wounds.

Snyder died March 17, but his end-of-life experience at Our Community House of Hope, a residential hospice in Thousand Oaks, proved so powerful that his son, Jordan Snyder, felt compelled to address a large crowd of supporters during the hospice’s annual fundraising gala at the Sherwood Country Club just one week after his father’s death.

“My father was admitted to the (House of Hope) for the last two and half weeks of his life after a battle with lung cancer,” Snyder said in an interview with The Acorn. “There was a lot of healing that occurred in that house.”


Photos by MICHAEL COONS Acorn Newspapers Photos by MICHAEL COONS Acorn Newspapers Jordan Snyder, 37, said his parents had been divorced for nearly as long as he could remember and the relationship between them was filled with strife. The divorce had engendered anger, regret and guilt in the parents and their two children, Jordan and Lauren.

But during Jerome Snyder’s two-week stay at Our Community House of Hope, the family members found they were able to replace anger with love and acceptance.

“All four of us were in the same room, and (my sister and I) experienced a loving moment between my mother and father for the first time,” Jordan Snyder said. “We experienced a healing moment.”


CELEBRATING LIFE—A week after his father’s death, Jordan Snyder, left, with Teresa Wolf, co-founder of Our Community House of Hope, at the hospice’s annual fundraising gala at the Sherwood Country Club. 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorns Newspapers CELEBRATING LIFE—A week after his father’s death, Jordan Snyder, left, with Teresa Wolf, co-founder of Our Community House of Hope, at the hospice’s annual fundraising gala at the Sherwood Country Club. MICHAEL COONS/Acorns Newspapers The theme of this year’s House of Hope gala was “Journey of a Lifetime: Telling the Story.” Snyder’s story was one of many that were shared at the event.

The March 24 gala at the Sherwood Country Club attracted a wide scope of people and netted about $125,000 to keep the home up and running.

Teresa Wolf, co-founder of Our Community House of Hope with Ruth Klein, said that this year’s fundraising event featured a “Before I Die” wall created by Eagle Scout Tristan Knudson, 17, of Thousand Oaks.

The wall is a global community art project that began in New Orleans in 2011 and has been replicated more than 2,000 times in 70 countries in over 35 languages. It features a chalkboard with the prompt “Before I die I want to” followed by individual lines to be filled in by people pondering life—or death.

The wall created for Our Community House of Hope will be loaned out to malls, libraries, churches and community events such as street fairs to raise awareness about life and death issues, Wolf said.

“We hope that this ‘Before I Die’ wall becomes a gathering place for community members to express their feelings, their hopes and their dreams of accomplishing some important goal in their lives,” she said. “When anyone is asked to ponder this statement, it leads them to think deeply about what life lies ahead and what they have already accomplished.”

Our Community House of Hope is a social hospice that opened its doors about five years ago. A social hospice differs from a medical facility in that trained volunteers are there simply to care for people in a home environment before they die. Our Community House of Hope is a home rather than a medical facility, Wolf has said.

After a restructuring last year, Our Community House of Hope launched a new respite care program that can give caregivers a break.

“Providing 24-hour care for a loved one is physically and emotionally exhausting,” Wolf said. “Many family members may take care of a terminally ill loved one for several years without a break.

“Our Community House of Hope offers 10 days of respite care to these families in our home. This short respite time gives the caregiver a much-needed break and allows for rest and relaxation so essential for them to resume their full-time caregiving responsibilities.”

Wolf said that the hospice launched a program this week called “Conversations of a Lifetime,” which will help people talk about their own end-of-life wishes with family members and explain how to fill out advance directives so their wishes are legally binding.

“Many parents may ask their adult children to talk about the subject of making end-of-life decisions, but their children are not willing to have this conversation, often saying, ‘You’re not dying, we don’t need to talk about that now,’” Wolf said.

“The fear of facing death and avoiding end-of-life decision discussions often results in a family crisis when the inevitable medical emergency occurs. The family is left wondering, ‘What would Mom want us to do now?’”

The program is open to any group or family, and classes will be offered in community settings and at churches, schools and private homes.

Our Community House of Hope offers residents a private room and 24-hour end-of-life care.

Personalized care plans are coordinated with the patients’ medical hospice, and residents generally stay at the home from a few days up to a month. All of their needs are attended to by trained volunteers.

During their stay, residents are treated to weekly massage and music therapy, and enjoy visits from therapy dogs and other groups, Wolf said. The program is offered on a first-come, firstserved basis. Residents cannot be on life support.

Jordan Snyder said the hospice home experience was transformative for him and his family. In addition to buying his father any kind of food he wanted, he and other family members slept overnight with his father on several occasions.

“Having the comforts of home and the 24-hour care was pretty incredible,” Snyder said.

For more information, visit www.ourhouseofhope.org or call (805) 492-6244 or email info@ourhouseofhope.org.

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