It was a Sunday afternoon in spring of 1992. A handful of people gathered in Good Sam’s first office on the corner of Electric Road and Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke. It was this time to offer a simple blessing and to lift up the work of hospice and place it in sacred keeping that began the charge for Good Sam.
“I feel like Good Sam was meant to be here,” said Sue Ranson, co-founder and CEO. “The way it seamlessly came together was indicative of the need. I believe God created the path for us to serve.”
And, just like that, Good Sam was catapulted into fulfilling its call to affirm life in the midst of illness and grief. For twenty five years, “Good Sam has been intentional about focusing on our mission and not getting distracted by opportunities or pressures to move outside the scope of the special work of hospice,” Sue explained. While Good Sam has grown and changed – increasing its service area, working toward greater access, adding complementary programs and outreach initiatives – it has never lost sight of its roots and never veered from its purpose.
“Over the years, so many people have expressed what a blessing Good Sam was to them and to their family,” Sue remembers. “But it is remarkable that you can’t work in hospice and also not be blessed. This reciprocity of blessing has never changed, just as our mission has never changed.”
Sue reflects on the gratitude that she feels today. “I am grateful that the work of hospice still energizes me,” she says. “The opportunity to touch people’s lives at such a sacred time and to be a safety net that empowers families to do things they never thought possible is not something that I take for granted.” She also marvels at the staff and volunteers who pour their lives into this work. “It’s not a job for them. It’s a calling, a ministry, a passion.”
The one thing that Sue said surprises her after twenty-five years is people’s continued resistance to receiving hospice care. “I do understand, given how we struggle to accept death,” she explains, “but I had hoped that hospice would be a bigger part of the mainstream of care by now.”
If she could look down the road twenty-five more years, her hope for Good Sam would be that the mutual blessing of giving and receiving endures, that “we continue to be the very best we can be to everyone who needs us, and that when people think about hospice, they think about Good Sam.”
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