Redeemer Health Mercer Home Care Receives a Generous Donation for their Bereavement Program | Redeemer Health
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Redeemer Health Mercer Home Care Receives a Generous Donation for their Bereavement Program

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This reflection was written by Julie Chamberlain, MSW, LSW, a hospice social worker at Redeemer Health.

As a hospice social worker, I am always looking for resources that could be beneficial to our patients and families as they process the multitude of feelings that arise during the grieving process. I was thrilled when I received a call from Barbara Tonetti asking if her daughter, Julia, could organize a collection of children’s books to be donated to the bereavement program at Redeemer Health Mercer Home Care.

Barbara spoke kindly as she reflected on her family’s own personal history with us, saying, “Holy Redeemer is a special place for me and my family. Actually, Julia and I were both born at Holy Redeemer Hospital. When Julia was born, she had to spend some time in the NICU. I will never forget our time in that unit.”

Julia is now a junior in high school, and thriving. As Barbara and Julia were pondering volunteer projects that Julia could do for her National Honor Society community service hours, they spoke with members of their community. It was during a discussion with their neighbor, fellow Redeemer Health Mercer Home Care social worker Sara Organic, that the idea for the book collection began to take root.

Julia’s planning soared from there, and she researched children's books that focus on death, loss, coping, and grieving. Then she requested book donations and monetary contributions to help buy books. Eventually, Julia collected 21 books, which she and Barbara proudly dropped off at our office in May.

They told us how books have been a source of support for them through their own experiences with loss. Barbara explained, “Julia was little when my mother was dying. And you know, kids don’t always want to sit down and read, so I picked up children’s books focused on what was happening, and I would read aloud in my mom’s room. I knew my mom could hear my voice, but I also knew that Julia was listening, even if she was playing. The words from those books were helpful to all of us during that time…so these books are not just a resource for children.”

Our hospice team is extremely grateful for the time, planning, and effort that Julia put into this project, and I am confident the books she collected will be helpful to many people for years to come.