Hospice of Homer has a new executive director after Darlene Hilderbrand retired last month. Hilderbrand started as the volunteer coordinator 18 years ago before becoming director.
Jessica Golden started working with Hilderbrand last month and took over the volunteer-based operation May 1. Golden has worked in the non-profit field since 2008 doing public relations work for Blood Bank of Alaska and most recently as the events manager for the American Lung Association’s Alaska branch.
Golden explained that she had wanted to move out of Anchorage for some time, and Homer was on top of her family’s list.
“So I was raised in Alaska, and I sort of imported my husband from the outside. I kept telling him Anchorage isn’t Alaska,” Golden said. “We would go hiking and camping and stuff out in the parks. We got to taste real Alaska. I knew I wanted to live somewhere where there would be eagles in my yard, we could go down to the beach anytime we wanted. So it was a long-time dream for us to be able to come here.”
Golden will manage day-to-day operations and several volunteers providing care for about 275 clients participating in three programs.
“The programs cover a wide gamut of needs within the community, and it’s not completely and solely focused on end-of-life care,” Golden explained.
Hospice of Homer provides bereavement support for those who may have had a recent surgery and offers grief support on top of their end-of-life services. Volunteers help with everything from accompanying clients to doctor appointments to daily errands.
Golden added that replacing Hilderbrand is a tall order.
“She had a retirement party that hundreds of people showed up, and it was amazing and humbling and exciting to see how one person can touch an entire community of people,” she said of Hilderbrand’s career.
Hospice of Homer is gearing up for its Holes “Fore” Hospice golf tournament in July and is also looking for volunteers to replant the memorial garden at Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith & Love Park the weekend of May 20 and 21.