Hospice drive exceeds $70,000

By Seth Schmidt

A fund-raising campaign for the construction of a new hospice house in Tracy is gaining momentum.
As of Monday, contributions and pledges stood at just over $71,000.
“Our grain drive last fall brought in $15,000, and we just got a gift of $40,000 from a Tracy family,” reports Nathan Schunke, administrator for Hospice of Murray County, which wants to build a four-bedroom, 6,100-square foot hospice house in Tracy.
The home, which will be called “Our House” of Tracy, will serve terminally ill people and their families.  Reaching a $250,000 goal in contributions and pledges will allow construction to begin on the project.
“We would like to break ground this spring,” explains Schunke.
The planned hospice house will be built on land near the corner of State St. and a platted, but undeveloped Fifth St. East.  Bonnie and Larry Buysse have donated an acre of land for the house. The site is near Sanford Health and Prairie View Senior Living.
Estimated cost to plan, build, and equip “Our House” is pegged at $1.5 million.  Hospice of Murray County would like to raise $1 million from a capital campaign, with the remainder of costs funded by hospice financial reserves.  A $250,000 goal in pledges and contributions has been targeted before construction can begin.
“Our board wants to be assured that there is enough community support for the house before we break ground,” Schunke explains.
He stresses that hospice supporters can make pledges over a period of time, if they wish, rather than writing out a check now.  People making pledges would then be sent statements on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, if that is the donor’s wish.
Hospice can also accept donations of stocks and mutual funds, Schunke says, in addition to actual cash donations.
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Hospice of Murray County, which is a non-profit organization not connected with any government entity, also operates a hospice house in Slayton.  The proposed hospice in Tracy would help alleviate a high-occupancy rate in the Slayton hospice, which at times has prevented the hospice from being able to fulfill all hospice home requests.  A new hospice in Tracy is designed to free up space in the Slayton hospice, and serve terminal patients and their families in the Tracy, Walnut Grove, Balaton, and Westbrook areas.
The philosophy of the new hospice house would be to offer dignified, comfortable care for the terminally ill, in a home-like atmosphere. Each hospice patient has his or her own bedroom with private bath. Meals are home-cooked and served family style, if possible.
Common living spaces for residents will include a living room with fireplace, sitting area and a place to watch television. A patio will look out over farm fields.
An extra bedroom is available for overnight family stays.  A sitting room for family members also has its own bathroom.
A spacious kitchen will offer dining around a table, plus a snack bar.
Our House will be staffed 24-hours a day, and employ 12-15 people.
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Future plans for the hospice fund-raising appeal includes a spaghetti supper Monday, Feb. 6, at St. Mary’s School.