The windows of the Heirlooms for Hospice store on Montrose's Main Street are decorated brightly, beckoning passersby to come in and see their collection of fine china, antique furniture, old-fashioned jewelry, vintage clothing and accessories, and more.
Shoppers peruse the aisles, one remarking on the aged beauty of an 1930s-era marble top table, another noticing the workmanship of a collection of painted birdhouses, while more check price tags of designer, name-brand clothing in enthusiastic disbelief.
Heirlooms for Hospice is indeed a unique resale shop, but not only because of what's inside; it is actually what comes out of Heirlooms for Hospice that makes the second hand store so exceptional. The store at 435 E. Main Street is a working arm of Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado, a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to supporting and caring for those facing serious illness and grief in Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Ouray counties.
Cindy Guara is the store manager at Heirlooms for Hospice. Between assisting customers at the front register and fielding questions from her small army of volunteers manning the store, Guara explains that the Heirlooms store is a major fundraiser for the Hospice and Palliative Care organization of Western Colorado.
"All money raised here goes to local area hospices," she explains of the store, which opened for business in October of last year.
"What is so important about Heirlooms is that it puts a face to the Hospice and Palliative Care organization. People come in and can feel good not only about what they bring home, but about the cause they've donated to as well."
Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado started in Grand Junction in 1993 as Grand Valley Hospice, after representatives from a number of area hospitals began discussing the area's need for more hospice-type organizations. The next year, Hospice of the Plateau Valley opened in Collbran to serve the Plateau Valley and DeBeque communities, and in 1995, another arm of the organization sprung up in the Montrose/Ouray county area. After Hospice of Delta County opened in 1999, the four area hospice organizations joined forces under one umbrella, Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado.
In the last decade, Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado has grown from serving just eight patients in 1993 to nearly 1,000 in 2002, and even more today. The organization's mission statement, "To improve the quality of life for all persons affected by life-threatening illness and grief," is realized through the organization's many regional programs. Hospice care offers a number of services to those living with a life-threatening illness and their families, including care at home or in the hospital from a team of healthcare professionals specially trained to address physical comfort and pain control as well as the emotional needs of the patient and family, medical equipment, supplies and medication. They also provide bereavement counseling for grieving family members.
Palliative care for those not yet ready or eligible for hospice care is offered by the organization's L.I.F.E. Transitions Center, where patients receive support in any number of ways, from expert symptom management, to regular nurse visits in the home, to counseling and education for patients and their families.
Weekly grief support groups are also offered by Hospice's Grief Center for adults, while the Child/Teen Center is the only program in Western Colorado offering specialized loss and grief education and counseling for children, teens and their families.
Hospice care through Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado is 100 percent covered by most insurance plans, but if there is no insurance or the insurance doesn't fully cover a patient's medical costs, patients and their families can apply for discounted payment on a sliding scale. No one is ever refused services because of the inability to pay, which is where Heirlooms for Hospice comes in.
With annual organizational expenditures of roughly $7.6 million, $6.9 million is reimbursed from patient billings, while $700,000 must be raised to cover the deficit. Montrose's Heirlooms for Hospice is just one of the organization's many fundraising entities; there is an additional Heirlooms store located in Grand Junction, and fundraisers for the center also help defray costs. Both Heirlooms stores stay afloat through donations of clothing, jewelry, collectables, and good quality home and furniture, which are always tax-deductible.