By Cassidy Smith, Written Communications Specialist

Baker’s on Main was beautifully lit up with string lights and smiles on Thursday, February 13th. The aroma of flower bouquets lingered throughout the room, swirling with scents of delicious hors d’oeuvres provided by our multitude of sponsors. Laughter and conversations echoed throughout the room, complemented by the harmonious cadence provided by Lynn and Terry Fulwider. Heart of Hospice was in full effect.

Droves of hospice supporters, community members, and business owners showed up to support Shepherd’s Cove Hospice as well as celebrate the members of our community who exemplify the heart of hospice. Over food, brews, and wine, old friends were reunited and new friends were established, all while celebrating our cause of bringing excellent care to those in our community dealing with end-of-life issues.
Shepherd’s Cove CEO Rhonda Osborne opened the ceremony by thanking all of our supporters for showing up. “Tonight, we are here to celebrate the heart of hospice,” Osborne said. “We want to celebrate philanthropy – the love of humankind – as we see it lived out in our community because, in our world, that type of goodness deserves to be celebrated.”

Chief Relations Officer Beth Ann Parnell lined out the definition of hospice as seen through Shepherd’s Cove’s eyes. “When someone is nearing the end of life,” Parnell explained, “they have lots of questions: what’s end-of-life like? When is it time for hospice? When should I stop treatments? How will I know? When terminal diagnosis becomes a reality, our hearts, our relationships hope: they hope for healing, for cures, for quality of life. Hospice is all of this. Hospice is not giving up hope. When reality hits, the heart of hospice is hope.”

Annah Grace Morgan, Shepherd’s Cove Foundation Director, began the award ceremony by thanking our supporters and sponsors for hosting such a beautiful event as well as continuously supporting our cause. “Through your continuous support,” Morgan said, “we can provide an excellent, much-needed service to our community! We are so thankful for the outpour of support from you all.”

The Heart of Hospice award is given to one community member and one local business for many reasons, including support of our mission, public acts of kindness, and support of the community. The 2020 Heart of Hospice awards were given to Lisa Baker, owner of Baker’s on Main, and Progress Rail, a local branch of the global railroad supply company.

“Lisa Baker is incredibly loyal, humble, generous and kind,” Morgan said. “She has been a dedicated supporter, committee member, and friend to Shepherd’s Cove for over 10 years, and we love and appreciate the heart she has for us and our community.

“Lisa enjoys giving back to our community, where she serves Christian Women’s Job Corps, Room in the Inn, Marshall Women’s Guild and Shepherd’s Cove Hospice. She is an advocate for our community, volunteering her time for the Merchant’s Association and bringing wonderful holiday events to downtown Guntersville, to spread the love and cheer that she has in abundance.”

The room erupted in applause for Baker, who wept in appreciation as she accepted her award.

Morgan then presented the corporate Heart of Hospice award.

“While they are a global leader, Progress Rail is focused on making OUR community a stronger, better place to live and work,” Morgan said. “One example is Christmas for Kids, a program that Progress Rail launched in 1989 that provides clothes, toys, and necessities for low-income children each year. The company also makes donations to Big Oak Ranch, a Springville, Alabama Christian camp that gives at-risk kids a better chance at a healthy life.

“Year after year, Progress Rail is honored by our local United Way for their amazing contributions as a leader in giving of both time and treasure,” she continued. “They generously support many organizations, including Shepherd’s Cove, in our community and as if that was not enough—In 2016, they launched 2 incredible programs in our schools: Project Literacy, that boosts literacy in Marshall County’s elementary school students through volunteer reading programs; and Project Graduation, that engages at-risk high school students through mentoring programs that encourage them to graduate from high school.”

Amy Everett, the communications director for Progress Rail, cheerfully accepted the award on her company’s behalf.

Shepherd’s Cove would like to extend a special thank you to the organizations responsible for the success of our event! Thank you to D&F Equipment (our presenting sponsor for Heart of Hospice), Tyson, Factory Connection, Progress Rail, Peoples Independent Bank, Young Motors, Howard Bentley, Total Dental Care, Marshall-DeKalb Electric Co-op, Local Joe’s, and BancorpSouth for your support in making Heart of Hospice possible! Thank you to Baker’s on Main, United Johnson Brothers, Grassroots, International Wines, Main Channel, Gadsden Budweiser, and M&J Wines for sponsoring the wonderful wine and beer tasting. Thanks to Santa Fe, Legghorns, The Rock House Eatery, Jonica’s Bakery, Local Joe’s, and Stache Mercantile for donating the hors d’oeuvres for our event. Last but not least, thank you to Lake Guntersville Flowers for donating the beautiful centerpieces used throughout the banquet hall. Heart of Hospice could not have been a success without any of these amazing sponsors!

Heart of Hospice is just another way for Shepherd’s Cove to recognize the amazing things that our community does for others. We are blessed by the support that our community receives on our behalf from our sponsors and supporters year after year. The heart of our community is beating strong because of the love and support of its members. We are so thankful for you.