Updates from the Chair
By Barak Wolff, Chair EOLONM Board of Directors
As we move into the second quarter of 2023 and approach the second anniversary of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, it’s a fine time to both take stock and look ahead at some exciting and challenging changes on the horizon. You’ll find all this and more in the stories that follow in this newsletter.
Lawsuit and Legislation
You may be aware that in mid-December the national Christian Medical and Dental Associations® along with lawyers representing the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act (EWEOLO Act). They claimed that the law impinges on the conscience protections of their members by requiring providers to discuss all legal end of life options with their seriously ill patients and referring those who request MAID, if they are not willing to provide the service. The lawsuit is progressing slowly and time will tell how the courts decide, but in the meantime…
…halfway through the recent 60-day legislative session, identical House and Senate bills were introduced to amend the EWEOLO Act. The amendments were an effort to clarify the language to assure concerned clinicians that the law will now provide a narrow exception allowing those clinicians with conscience conflicts to choose not to discuss end of life issues or refer their requesting patients. Ultimately these bills passed both chambers on a combined 104-0 positive vote, with no negative testimony and only a minor floor debate. EOLONM Board member, former NM Representative, and champion extraordinaire Debbie Armstrong was able to accomplish this with little drama. Support and commitment from the majority leadership coupled with a minority that realized we were taking steps in their direction got the job done. There was no disparagement or even discussion of the underlying intention of the EWEOLO Act which authorized medical aid in dying in New Mexico. We expect Governor Grisham will sign the bill soon. There is a chance that passing these amendments could actually moot the plaintiff’s claims and the lawsuit could be dismissed, potentially avoiding any possible negative consequence of a federal court battle that could be appealed up to the Supreme Court.
So, at this point the lawsuit continues with the NM Attorney General and other state agency lawyers arguing on behalf of the law. We will keep you posted about important developments. In the meantime, all aspects of our work continue.
2022, our first full year of operation as a nonprofit with a broad statewide mission, evidenced progress in many critical areas. EOLONM’s 2022 goals were to operationalize our programs and services; expand our cadre of volunteers; engage the substantial challenge of serving all New Mexicans by committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion; build strong organizational support/capacity for our services; and develop a solid financial footing to ensure sustainability. Looking ahead, in addition to building on our progress thus far, our 2023 goals are focused on outreach to Spanish-speaking, rural and Indigenous communities and households, and on hiring key staff to sustain our progress and support our new initiatives. Our accomplishments are summarized in our recently released 2022 Annual Report.
Looking At Exciting Changes Ahead
The work of EOLONM continues to grow at a rapid pace. We are experiencing an enormous expansion of activity due to our growing cadre of trained and committed volunteers. They are making significant progress in providing both advance care planning and end of life options education throughout the state and personal one-to-one support to those who request assistance in understanding and accessing care at the end of life. It has come to the point where EOLONM can no longer rely on the volunteer efforts of a few Board members to manage the day-to-day operations, much less tend to collaboration with partner organizations, grant writing, fund raising, long term planning, etc. For that reason, as described fully below, we are taking the necessary bold step to hire our first EOLONM Executive Director by this summer.
So, as always, we need your help. If you know of a strong candidate(s) for the Executive Director position, please send them our way (See announcement and how to apply below). Also, please do not forget to maintain your incredible financial support for EOLONM by making your 2023 donation today. We have done well in our initial fund raising efforts to date, but we have come to learn that it is never done…fund raising is a forever proposition for a nonprofit, especially one that does not charge fees for its services.
Until next time…Barak
No Time But The Present
It is with a great deal of emotions – excitement, gratitude, anticipatory grief, to name a few – that I announce my retirement effective June 30, 2023.
This major life decision has been awhile in the making. The last three years have been life altering for all of us. For me and my family, they have been filled with both the highest highs and the most challenging of challenges. All of which has led me to this rather obvious epiphany…
”there’s no time but the present to carpe diem!”
After spending the last five years working with Compassion & Choices and EOLONM to advance the end of life movement in New Mexico and a lifetime of nonprofit service, I plan to focus the next couple of years on some personal pursuits that I have put off for years – starting with the two pages of “if I only had time, I’d do…” bucket list. Steve, my partner of 35 years, has been enjoying retirement for the last five years and we both are ready for me to join him in the many adventures we’ve planned.
The end of life work has been a career high. Being a part of an incredible team to pass medical aid in dying legislation was such an honor. Since then, the work to create our EOLONM nonprofit to offer compassionate support and end of life services to New Mexicans, felt like we were bringing a dream to life. When Barak, MaryKay and I set out as the founding Board of Directors in 2021, my goal was to “establish a solid organizational foundation to begin and sustain operations for the long run.” With the dedication, tenacity, work ethic and encouragement of over 50 volunteers, supporting partnerships, and more than 300 donors and growing, I think we have done just that! Take a look at the progress made in our EOLONM 2022 Annual Report.
Like having a baby…I have come to the conclusion that there really is never a “perfect” time to retire. The retirement “to-do list” is long and will keep me busy, but EOLONM is forever in my heart and I will be cheering the team on as the good work continues. It’s been a labor of love to engage in such meaningful work with such dedicated colleagues who have become such good friends. What more could you ask for in work and in life and what sweet notes to end a career.
Now Hiring: EOLONM Executive Director
It is an exciting time in the history and development of our organization! Over the next few months, EOLONM will be conducting a search for our first official Executive Director. A Search Committee, made up of EOLONM supporters, donors, volunteers, advocates and nonprofit management experts, has been formed and will be leading the effort into the next phase of our organization’s growth.
Our hope is to attract like-minded individuals who want to help realize the EOLONM vision that “New Mexicans have accurate information and caring support to choose their end-of-life options in a system that honors those choices.” Please help us to widen the search by sharing the following announcement of the position with your friends and colleagues who may be interested in applying.
END OF LIFE OPTIONS NEW MEXICO, an organization that provides information and support for all end of life options, seeks an energetic half- to full-time Executive Director with an entrepreneurial spirit and proven leadership ability. Specific requirements include: a bachelor’s degree, advanced degree preferred; senior non-profit management experience; budgeting and fundraising experience; strong marketing, public relations, communication and writing skills; collaboration and relationship-building skills; familiarity with New Mexico cultures and diverse populations; planning and organizational skills; strong computer skills; a commitment to ethical business practices and experience with end-of-life issues. For a detailed job description and to apply: send your resume/CV and a cover letter expressing your interest and relevant qualifications/experience to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than April 30, 2023. For more information about EOLONM and our services see endoflifeoptionsnm.org
2022 Annual Report
2022 was our first full year as a nonprofit organization providing end of life information and one-to-one support to New Mexicans. There are many successes to report about our services and how New Mexicans are learning more about their end of life options. Eighteen months after passage of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act by the New Mexico State Legislature and “we are aware of more than 200 New Mexicans who have ended their suffering with medical aid in dying, a remarkable accomplishment given our small population and a new law,” reports EOLONM Chair Barak Wolff.
In the report we highlight many other successes and challenges, including our efforts to:
- Operationalize EOLONM’s Programs and Services;
- Engage the Significant Challenge of Serving All New Mexicans;
- Build Strong Organizational Support for our services; and
- Develop a Solid Financial Footing to Ensure Sustainability.
Our EOLONM Volunteers: Doing the Work!
Over these past 22 months, EOLONM has become a nonprofit service agency with a clearly defined mission to provide information and support for all end-of-life options, including medical aid in dying (MAID). To accomplish this, we have evolved three areas of service activity: public outreach and education concerning advance care planning and end-of-life options; individual client support for those requesting assistance with their end-of-life options; and, clinical outreach and education to help advise and train healthcare agencies and clinicians about medical aid in dying.
To address these areas of service we have recruited, vetted, trained and provided support to over 50 volunteers some who work in outreach and education, some who serve on-call on a rotating basis to work with individual clients and some who do both. Within this diverse group are both active and retired nurses, social workers, counselors, end of life doulas, public health professionals, teachers, etc. with many years of experience in providing care, education and services to all populations, but with a special focus on the elderly and dying. Much of the work has been carried out through email, telephone and zoom, but increasingly as we get beyond the worst of COVID, we have been giving presentations and visiting with clients in person. In addition, as the number of clinicians and agencies supporting medical aid in dying increases, there will be some requests and invitations for our volunteers to be at the bedside of those choosing to use MAID, often alongside the families and our hospice partners.
Much of the organizational efforts of the EOLONM Board and Executive Committee are about fully supporting and creating a welcoming and nurturing environment for our volunteers, both those who serve now and for those we will train and deploy in the future. We are fortunate to have a steady stream of impressive folks seeking to volunteer with EOLONM in various capacities. At this point, our priorities for the future are to recruit volunteers from more small towns and rural areas throughout the state, those from traditional communities, and Spanish and other bi-lingual speakers.
So, hats off to all our EOLONM Volunteers!! If you, your family and friends, or your community would like a presentation or someone needs personal assistance with their end-of-life options, we are a phone call (505-393-1321) or email (email@example.com) away.
Individual donors, like you, are the vital force of End of Life Options New Mexico. Check out these upcoming giving opportunities where your contribution could be matched!
Southern New Mexico Giving Day – is a 24 hour giving event to be held on April 21, 2023. Donations to EOLONM are eligible to receive a $1 to $1 match up to $500! These matching funds will be offered by the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and United Way of Southwest New Mexico. You can help by making a donation and spreading the word about this event by posting on your social media page. Use these hashtags #SNMGivingDay #southernnewmexicogivingday #givingday2023 #makeanimpact #givewhereyoulive to get the word out. With your help on April 21st, we can make an even greater impact in Southern New Mexico.
To find out more and participate in Southern New Mexico Giving Day, click here: www.southernnewmexicogivingday.org
Give Grandly 2023 – May 6, 2023 – Silver City. The Give Grandly Coalition, with the support of the Grant County Community Foundation, has organized this fundraising event each year for the last nine years. Grant County Community Foundation and generous sponsors will provide matching funds. An in-person event will be held on Main Street Plaza in Silver City, NM, Saturday, May 6th, 2023 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. EOLONM Silver City volunteers will be on hand to connect directly with donors, showcasing the work they do in the community. There will be fun, food, music, and an opportunity to give. Please support EOLONM’s work in the Grant County community by donating and by spreading the word about this event by posting on social media and using the hashtag #givegrandly.
To learn more about Give Grandly 2023 or to donate, click here: https://www.givegrandly.org/fundraisers
FYI: you don’t have to live in Southern New Mexico or Grant County to make a contribution on these giving days.
We would also like to thank the following organization for providing the opportunity for their members and colleagues to give to EOLONM…
Santa Fe – January – March, 2023, 100+ Women Who Care in Santa Fe selected EOLONM as one of three nonprofit organizations their members supported in the first quarter of 2023. We appreciate the caring women of Santa Fe for embracing our mission while fulfilling their own generous mission “to help our community by having 100+ women contribute $100 per person four times a year, that’s $40,000+ annually, to local charities.” EOLONM received a total of $6,500 from more than 80 women who care.
Gifts to EOLONM Made in the Names of Others
Did you know that you can designate your tax-deductible donation to EOLONM in the name of others you would like honor or memorialize? Whether you choose to honor someone who is living or memorialize someone who has died, you can make a donation and indicate the name of the person you would like to honor in this way. The following designated donations were made this quarter: