Senior couple outdoors embracingGiving

How to Leave a Legacy Gift to the VNA & Hospice Foundation in Five Minutes- In less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee, you can make a lasting impact.

One of the easiest gifts you can make is to name the VNA & Hospice Foundation as a beneficiary of one of your assets, such as your retirement plan, life insurance policy or estate plans (bequest).

If you have your estate plans already set up, it is good to review them at least every 10 years to make sure things haven’t changed. This is also a great time to consider adding the VNA & Hospice Foundation as a beneficiary. If you don’t have one set up, we can provide you with a list of estate planning attorneys that could assist you.

Retirement plans and life insurance policies are a popular way to give because you can set it up by yourself in five minutes or less. There’s no need to use an attorney to arrange for this type of gift.

The Secure Act’s 10-year rule has made naming a charity more attractive because the charity will not owe income tax when selling the inherited holdings. If a family member or heir is left as the beneficiary, they will owe tax on distributions and will need to deplete the accounts within 10 years.

The steps are simple:

  1. Contact your retirement plan administrator or life insurance company and request a change of beneficiary form or download a form online.
  2. Decide what percentage of the account you wish to give and name the VNA & Hospice Foundation, along with the percentage, on the form.
  3. Sign and return the form to your plan administrator or insurance company.
  4. Tell us about your gift! We would be honored to welcome you as a member of our Nightingale Legacy Society!

No matter the size, your gift makes a meaningful difference to the patients and families served by the VNA & Hospice Foundation. Contact Maurika Reed at (772) 978- 5574 or to learn more about giving a gift that doesn’t cost you anything today. If you’ve already made a gift, please let us know so that we can thank you for your generosity and welcome you as a member of our Nightingale Legacy Society.

The Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice Foundation (Tax ID# 59-2804739) is a non-profit organization created to receive and administer funds to support the mission of the VNA of the Treasure Coast.

Key benefit:  Beneficiary designations offer built in peace of mind. Your current budget isn’t affected because the gift is completed after your lifetime, and you can make changes at any time.

Bob Albeitz being pinned by VNA Volunteer Veteran and aboard with Wounded Waters crew.Programs

Honoring Veterans is a Special Part of VNA Hospice

Nonagenarian Bob Albietz and his younger brother Don moved to Vero Beach from the West Coast of Florida for one reason: to fish in the ocean. “The water’s too shallow on the West Coast,” said Don. Unfortunately, the brothers, who are Veterans, never had a chance because only a few weeks after calling Vero Beach their home, Bob began having severe breathing problems and went to see a doctor. “It didn’t take long. The doctor was with Bob about an hour and said, ‘There’s something wrong,’ and that’s when we found out he had throat cancer,” said Don.

The cancer turned out to be terminal, and Bob spent the next few months in the hospital until he was strong enough to return home. Before discharge, the doctor recommended hospice, and Bob chose the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). VNA Hospice care focuses on quality of life, with an emphasis on pain management, support for the patient and their family, and counseling, in addition to many other services, such as music therapy and pet therapy.

While Bob was pleased with VNA’s services, he was also frustrated because he thought he’d never fish again. But when his VNA Hospice Counselor learned about this, she enlisted the help of VNA’s Volunteer Department, and under the auspices of a VNA & Hospice Foundation supported program, Project Wish, was able to make Bob and Don’s dream come true. Through careful planning, the Project Wish team coordinated with Wounded Waters, a local nonprofit that takes Veterans out fishing free of charge, and a couple of weeks later Bob and Don spent a lovely afternoon doing just that.

The outing included a VNA Hospice volunteer presenting Bob with a handmade American flag blanket, part of the We Honor Veterans program that VNA Hospice is a proud Level 4 partner of. We Honor Veterans was developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veteran Affairs that addresses the unique needs Veterans have when it comes to end-of-life care.

Don was happy his brother received the patriotic blanket and grateful for the delightful afternoon spent together. “We didn’t catch any fish, but it was a great day anyway,” said Don.

The day was also made possible thanks to the excellent care by Bob’s hospice nurse, Mary Brown, who identified a change in medication that could help reduce swelling he had been experiencing in his ankles that confined him to a wheelchair. Once the swelling abated, he could use a walker, allowing him to be mobile enough – and confident enough – to participate in the fishing trip. “I was really excited about the walker because he really wants to be independent,” said Mary.

As for their part, Bob and Don had a blast. “They treated us like kings,” said Don. “Yeah, that’s quite an outfit…these visiting nurses are great!” added Bob.

Providing quality care like the kind Bob received is the VNA’s norm and part of its mission to recognize the extra attention that is due to Veterans. It is the reason why VNA Private Care coordinated with Veterans Affairs (VA) on a relatively new initiative, Non-Institutional care, that ensures Veterans age safely in place at little to no cost to themselves. It does this by contracting with companies that offer private care, in this case the VNA.

The VNA’s commitment to ensuring optimal care for Veterans is also made possible through the generosity of our donors, who support programs like Project Wish that help provide these men and women who have given so much to our country the best end-of-life care possible.

A big shout-out to Veterans – we thank and salute you! And a round of applause for our benefactors – we couldn’t do it without you!

Senior man receiving physical therapy at homePrograms

VNA Charitable Care Program Helps Patient-In-Need

Like many, the COVID-19 epidemic hit *James hard. “I lost my job and health insurance,” he said, and worse, he never recovered either. Six months ago, however, he qualified for Medicare – a relief since he has had myriad health issues, including Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. But Medicare doesn’t cover all of his expenses, and it’s been a struggle to pay his bills. This issue came to a head when he ended up in the emergency room after a heart attack. His release was contingent upon him receiving home health care, and he opted for the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), whose mission is to provide health care for people regardless of their ability to pay. He said his choice turned out to be a “life saver” because he qualified for the VNA’s Charitable Care program, an initiative that ensures people who are under and un-insured still receive the high-quality home care that they need and deserve. It is funded by the VNA & Hospice Foundation through philanthropic contributions. Because of the generosity of VNA’s donors, James received physical therapy at home and also qualified for the VNA’s Telehealth Program. “I checked my vitals daily on the (telehealth) machine. If there was anything off, a nurse called and followed up. It was very helpful,” he said.

To find out more about the VNA & Hospice Foundation’s Charitable Care program or to make a secure online donation to support this program which helps the VNA provide care for our friends and neighbors throughout Indian River County, visit here.

*Not his real name

Collage of photos showing camp attendees engaged in various activities.Programs

Visiting Nurse Association’s Camp Chrysalis Embraces Nature to Help Our Grieving Children

For a child, the loss of a loved one can be devastating and understanding the feelings that come afterwards can be confusing. VNA’s Camp Chrysalis, a one-day bereavement-focused camp that is offered through VNA’s Hospice program, provides a way for kids who have experienced a death to better understand and cope with their emotions.

Our most recent Camp Chrysalis was held on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) in Vero Beach. Camp activities, which were conducted by VNA-trained counselors as well as ELC staff, were designed to help children work through their grief and understand that their emotions are a normal part of the grieving process.

The children began the day with a yarn ball activity where everyone stood in a circle and took turns throwing the yarn to each other while holding a piece of it. Then they introduced themselves and the loved ones they lost. “At the end, you see a web of yarn and how we are all connected by death,” explained Melissa King, VNA Director of Bereavement Services. “And we each cut a piece of the yarn to be connected after we leave camp.”

Other activities included canoeing along the Indian River Lagoon and taking a ‘nature journaling walk’ where the children went on a guided tour of the ELC’s beautiful grounds, walking among the trees, plants and flowers with a journal that was gifted to them and drew pictures of their lush surroundings. Another activity was the Touch Tank, where the kids had the opportunity to hold sea life, including starfish, crabs, and sea urchins.

There was also a group bereavement session that involved therapeutic writing. In addition, the children enjoyed a unique music therapy session that incorporated musical instruments and storytelling where the children learned that there are different ways to grieve. To bring the day full circle, Melissa had the children make memory lanterns that they could take home with them. The project entailed the campers writing their favorite memories about their loved ones who had passed away on tissue paper and decoupaging them on mason jars with the help of an instructor. Inside the mason jars there were battery operated tea light candles that the children could turn on later when they felt lonely and needed to connect with their loved ones.

Based on the children’s response to the memory lanterns as well as the day’s other activities, Melissa deemed the camp a success. “I was really encouraged in their sharing and exploring not only their grief, but also the ELC and the activities there,” she said.

It is important to remember that Camp Chrysalis may be the first step on a child’s personal grief journey, and it is currently the only camp in our community focused on children and their distinct bereavement needs. There is no cost to attend Camp Chrysalis, and this wonderful VNA & Hospice Foundation supported program is made possible by generous funding from the Otis G. Pike Charitable Trust and Quail Valley Charities (a huge thank you to both).

Image highlights from 2024 GAT

34th Annual VNA & Hospice Foundation Golf-A-Thon is a triumph!

The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) & Hospice Foundation held its 34th annual Golf-A-Thon fundraiser on Monday, May 6, 2024, and it was a huge success, raising over $526,000! The event was held at Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach and was hosted by golf pro, Troy Pare, who is the club’s Director of Golf and Membership Sales. The benefit was played on the Harbor Course, a certified Audubon Cooperative International Sanctuary, designed by iconic American golf course designer, Pete Dye.

The day commenced at 7 a.m. when Troy and 12 other local golf pros teed off and played several rounds of golf, not stopping until 4:30 p.m. Donors supported the participation of their golf pro in the event with all donations supporting the VNA’s Charitable Care Program, which provides compassionate hospice and home health care along with access to the VNA Hospice House for residents in our community who cannot afford their care. The importance of our mission cannot be overstated, and the VNA & Hospice Foundation could not support this invaluable program without our incredibly generous donors, for whom we are incredibly grateful.

Our marathon day of golf concluded with a Shoot-out contest. Golf pro Anthony Ranieri from Pointe West Country Club won, coming in at 1 foot 7 inches. This was followed by an awards ceremony and cocktail reception inside the clubhouse where the VNA & Hospice Foundation Director of Development, Michelle Deschane, thanked everyone profusely. “The VNA & Hospice Foundation sincerely appreciates the efforts of our volunteers and the support of our donors and community partners. Because of you, the VNA can continue its mission of providing hospice and home health care to the residents of our community who are uninsured or underinsured but who desperately need our care,” said Michelle.

The Foundation’s Board Chair, Carol M. Kanarek, also spoke. “It’s great to hear the stories of what people say about the VNA and why they participate. It makes it all worthwhile. I thank each and every one of you,” she said passionately.

A special thanks was also given to Eva and Bill Gurley, Grand Sponsors of Golf-A-Thon; Ned and Emily Sherwood, Elite Sponsors; and Michael J. Pierce, Event Sponsor.

In addition, appreciation was given to co-chairs Carol Ceplenski, Gail Parsons, and Catherine Reichert, who were thrilled with how the day turned. “It’s great we all raised so much money for the VNA. That’s where our hearts are,” said Carol Ceplenski. Catherine Reichert concurred. “The day’s been excellent, and the volunteers have been fabulous,” she said.

We would once again like to express our gratitude to the 14 participating golf pros: Matthew Challenor from Windsor Club; David Champagne from Orchid Island Golf Club; Drew DiSesa from Riomar Country Club; Randy Hedgecock from Vero Beach Country Club; Steve Hudson from John’s Island Club; Ian Killen from Indian River Club; Don Meadows from Quail Valley Golf Club; Frank Mentzer from Oak Harbor Golf Club; Bela Nagy from Sandridge Golf Club; Troy Pare from Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club; Thomas Brinson from The Moorings Yacht and Country Club; Eddie Suchora from Bent Pine Golf Club; Jason Berchtold also from Bent Pine; and Anthony Ranieri from Pointe West Country Club.

Thank you, gentlemen!

It is not too late to make your donation to the Golf-A-Thon and support your golf pro. For more information, visit  – and make a difference in your community.

image of Bill and Eva Gurley with golf tee background

Thank you to Golf-A-Thon Grand Sponsor Eva & Bill Gurley

A big round of applause for Eva and Bill Gurley who have been significant supporters of the VNA & Hospice Foundation for many years. Eva is currently on the VNA & Hospice Foundation Board of Directors and the VNA Hospice of Indian River County Board of Directors. This year, she and Bill are delighted to take on the role of Grand Sponsor for the 34th Annual Golf-A-Thon, the major fundraiser for the VNA & Hospice Foundation. They appreciate the work of the chairs, staff, volunteers and the time and talent of the golf pros for the success of the event. All funds raised ensure that VNA’s work in the community continues in pursuit of high-quality home health and hospice care.

Many Indian River County families who require essential health care services do not have the financial resources to pay for them. But thanks to the VNA & Hospice Foundation, the VNA can care for these people, whether they need home health services, like post-surgical care, or end-of-life care through hospice. The VNA provides hospice wherever a patient calls home, and for patients who can no longer manage their symptoms at home, the VNA offers Hospice House, a beautiful facility with 12 private rooms where patients receive care 24/7.

The VNA is the only local non-profit organization providing compassionate home health and hospice care to our most fragile population, and we couldn’t do it without the generosity of the community. If you’d like to help our mission, please consider supporting the VNA & Hospice Foundation’s 34th Annual Golf-A-Thon. Your contribution will ensure the VNA can continue to provide home health and hospice services to our friends and neighbors who lack financial resources to obtain the care they desperately need and deserve. You can donate securely online at

Smiling health care worker embracing female patient.Programs

VNA, More Than Just Hospice Care

Many people associate the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) exclusively with hospice, however, we offer so much more, including multi-faceted home care services. These services are offered to all members of the community, regardless of their ability to afford their care. That’s because providing quality healthcare to local residents who are uninsured and underinsured is a key aspect of the VNA’s mission, which sets us apart from other local home health agencies.

Our home health services provide comprehensive coordinated care through an interdisciplinary team of professionals who work closely with our patients’ physicians to arrange care in their home or place of residence. Our focus is to provide compassionate, innovative care of the highest quality, setting the standard for patients and caregivers needing home health services. These services include cardiac care, wound care, cancer care, neurological/dementia care, fall prevention, and care for chronic illnesses such as COPD and kidney disease.

VNA also offers the Hospital Prevention Program (HPP), a patient-centered home health service launched last year. It’s geared toward helping high-risk patients with severe diagnoses, like end-stage respiratory disease and congestive heart failure, who are susceptible to hospitalization or rehospitalization, remain safely at home. Not only do patients benefit physically and mentally, but they avoid high costs associated with hospitalization.

This respectful, comprehensive approach to healthcare is reflected in another VNA program, Community Health Services, which is supported by the VNA & Hospice Foundation. This includes the VNA Mobile Health Clinic, which provides affordable healthcare to the vulnerable in our community, including many young families.

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who are qualified to examine, diagnose and prescribe treatments and medications, see patients for illnesses such as upper respiratory infections; eye and ear infections; minor cuts, skin infections and rashes. They also provide school and sports physicals for Indian River County students. Our APRNs also provide health education and health screenings throughout the community to promote living a healthy lifestyle.

This holistic approach to healthcare is also a cornerstone of VNA’s flagship program, hospice. Home hospice care is provided by a patient’s interdisciplinary team that’s comprised of a medical director, residential nurse case manager (RNCM), social worker and chaplain. Home health aides, volunteers and music therapists are also integral parts of the team. Routine care may include pain management, symptom management, assistance with daily tasks and personal hygiene, like bathing, and emotional and spiritual counseling for the family. The frequency of visits by VNA caregivers is based on the patient’s plan of care developed by the interdisciplinary team and family.

For those patients who require intense around-the-clock care, VNA Hospice House is another option. The VNA Hospice House feels like a comfortable, elegant home-away-from-home that includes beautifully appointed patient rooms. Fortunately, VNA Hospice House is also available to home hospice patients for five days once a month for Respite Care. The goal is to provide the primary caregiver, usually a family member of the hospice patient, “time off” from caregiving while their loved one receives 24/7 coordinated care from the in-house VNA Hospice House staff.

If you would like to learn more about services supported by the VNA & Hospice Foundation, please visit


A Journey With Hospice Inspires A Volunteer

“My mom dying in a hospital was not the best, so that’s when I became interested in hospice,” says Karen Formont, a volunteer for the Visiting Nurse Association’s (VNA) Golf-A-Thon, VNA & Hospice Foundation’s annual fundraising event. During the monthly Golf-A-Thon meetings, Karen learned about the two types of hospice care VNA offers: home hospice care and in-patient hospice care at VNA Hospice House, a state-of-the art facility in Vero Beach for end-of-life care. She was impressed by VNA’s comprehensive approach to hospice, and when her aunt became sick, advised her cousin to contact the non-profit. “My cousin’s first opinion was, ‘Oh hospice, that’s dreary. You’re just kind of sent there to die,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, you know nothing about hospice.’”

Fortunately, Karen’s cousin took her advice, and her mom spent her final days comfortably at the VNA Hospice House. “Afterward, my cousin was just crying on the phone with me (saying) ‘thank you so much, what a wonderful way for everyone to say goodbye to her.’ I think the problem with hospice is people don’t know what they don’t know,” says Karen.

During Karen’s aunt’s stay at the VNA Hospice House, her care included music therapy, a special VNA Hospice program that Karen said her late aunt and extended family thoroughly appreciated. Another VNA service Karen was educated about was advance care planning, something she had personal experience with before her mom and dad passed away. “It’s easier for the person to make the decisions about themselves than it is for the family, and I think that’s another thing they’re very helpful with here at VNA, helping you with the steps to take,” she says.

Witnessing her aunt’s experience with hospice made Karen appreciate the benefits of having hospice care sooner rather than later. “I wish that people would contact this organization before the last few moments of someone’s death and realize they can get the support both before and after their loved one’s death,” she says.

Karen’s recent familial experience with hospice has also inspired her to volunteer even more. “I want to start sitting with people (on hospice) that have no one to be with them because I just think it’s very important to have someone in the room,” she says. “Everybody deals with death at some point, whether it’s a spouse, a parent or a child, and that’s why I feel really passionate about it.”

To learn more about VNA services or becoming a VNA volunteer, please visit

Senior couple discussing advanced care planning paperwork.Programs

Why Advance Care Planning Is So Important

While advance care planning is useful for anyone, it’s particularly important for those looking for the best end-of-life care experience and considering hospice. At the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), we understand this process may initially seem daunting, which is why we’ve made it as seamless as possible with the help of our advance care planning team.

The first step of the program is an information session, where you meet with a nurse practitioner and licensed clinical social worker in your home to evaluate your health and educate you on available services and treatment options. They will also provide you with supportive literature and tools to empower informed decision making and self-advocacy after the visit.

The importance of advance care planning cannot be overstated. It plants the first seeds of thought about your long-term healthcare wishes and serves to invite open conversation and consideration of what are often deemed uncomfortable topics. If appropriate, it affords the opportunity to receive accurate education about hospice philosophy and services, dispelling myths and breaking down barriers to what is the only service that can support the needs of the dying.

Advance care planning not only provides the opportunity for choice and active participation in your plan of care, but it is a way of planning proactively rather than reactively – before a health crisis occurs. It’s also a way of saying ‘I love you’ to your family. By having an advance directive in place, it alleviates the burden of decision-making for them.

For more information about advance care planning, please call our office at 772.567.5551 and ask to speak with one of our advance care planning specialists. You can also find more information about advance care planning at