EUSTIS, Fla.—Two local businesses and a nonprofit organization are comforting VITAS® Healthcare patients and their families in Lake and Sumter counties in the form of free food, hand-crafted items and friendly visits from therapy dogs.
The Chick-fil-A restaurant in Clermont, Seams Like Old Times in Sorrento, and Caring Canines Therapy Dogs Inc. in Eustis have joined with VITAS, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, as business-focused community partners.
- Chick-fil-A restaurant provides a take-out meal to a hospice patient and family once a month. A VITAS social worker works with Chick-fil-A to identify the deserving family, picks up the meal from the restaurant's Clermont location and delivers it to the patient's home.
- Seams Like Old Times and its four professional seamstresses donate their time to sew Memory Bears, stuffed animals crafted from a VITAS hospice patient's clothing or favorite fabric to serve as a comforting reminder for family members and survivors. Working from their shop in Sorrento, the company's seamstresses have 140 years of combined sewing experience.
- Caring Canines Therapy Dogs Inc. is a Eustis-based nonprofit organization whose members (and pets) have undergone training and certification as VITAS Paw Pals® volunteers. Members accompany their pets on regular visits to patients' homes and care facilities to provide cuddly companionship, love and comfort.
"Lake-Sumter businesses and organizations are making a powerful, positive impact in the lives of our patients and families at one of the most challenging times of life," says Christopher Shepherd, volunteer services manager for VITAS. "Something as simple as providing a meal, making craft items that evoke fond memories and scheduling regular pet visits can go a long way toward helping patients and families enjoy quality of life near the end of life."
VITAS began providing hospice care in Lake and Sumter counties in 2017 and has been leading the American hospice movement since 1978.
Businesses and organizations interested in helping local hospice patients and their families by donating a product, service or time can contact Shepherd at Christopher.Shepherd@VITAS.com to explore opportunities as a VITAS Community Partner.