Updates from the Chair
By Barak Wolff, Chair EOLONM Board of Directors
We’re Two Years Old, Change Is Inevitable, A Bittersweet Goodbye, and Some Hearty Welcomes
A few days ago I picked up our End of Life Options New Mexico trifold brochure and read it slowly, panel by panel. When it was drafted in the early summer of 2021, it represented our best guess about what was important, what we wanted to share with the public, and what EOLONM stood for and would hopefully grow into. It was more aspirational than reality. Two years later, I am truly amazed and humbled that our brochure remains spot on…the information continues to be important and we, the dedicated volunteers of EOLONM, have fully embraced our mission, lived our values, and have grown into the education and service roles we identified for ourselves.
Here is a link to our brochure… give it a read and see what you think. I hope you share my pride and feel that EOLONM continues to deserve your generous support. If so, here is a link to our smooth functioning Donate Button! We really do need your participation to sustain the mission.
But organizations, like people, go through their changes over time. In 2021, we started our new nonprofit with three Board Members and perhaps 25 volunteers, most of whom had been advocates in our successful campaign to enact the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act.
In the summer of 2022, we added three additional Board Members and had grown our volunteer cadre to over 40. Today, EOLONM has about 60 active volunteers working on public outreach and education, providing individual services to support end-of-life clients and their families, and helping develop the capacities of our New Mexico hospices and clinicians to provide respectful and patient-centered end-of-life services and care. There is always so much more work to do to reach all New Mexicans, but this is a good moment to take a deep breath and appreciate our progress to date.
As you may have read in the last newsletter, our EOLONM Vice-Chair, Jill VonOsten will be retiring at the end of June. Jill has been long supported by our generous national partner, Compassion & Choices, to specifically lead our outreach and advocacy efforts, and she has also helped us develop a strong foundation for our nonprofit organization, build our e-communications capacity (website, newsletter and social media) and generally help ensure solid management and progress on all facets of our EOLONM mission. Jill has done all of that and more. Jill’s leaving is bittersweet as it is a great loss to the cause generally and to many of us personally. However, we are all pleased that she can take this time to travel, to pursue other interests, and spend more time with family and friends. We honor Jill as a Founding Board Member and we are pleased that she is willing to be formally recognized as an “Advisor Emeritus” to EOLONM and help us out once in a while, as need be.
Welcome Julia Bergen, M.Ed.
Earlier this year, when we first learned of Jill’s plans to retire, the Board decided that there was no way to fill her many roles and critical functions with volunteer labor alone. With our outreach activities expanding and requests for direct assistance continuing to grow, it was the right time for the organization to hire our first Executive Director. The process to find an Executive Director utilized an independent search committee to screen and recommend qualified candidates to the Board of Directors. The Board conducted interviews of the finalists, performed due diligence, and checked references before making a final decision. It was a terrific process that yielded some excellent candidates from a highly qualified and talented applicant pool.
Julia Bergen, an experienced New Mexico nonprofit Executive Director with a strong track record of success and enthusiastic references, was our top choice! Julia started work on June 5th which allowed almost a full month of overlap with Jill and sufficient time for a thorough “on-boarding” process. This month Julia will be meeting and zooming with individuals and groups and learning the organizational and financial ropes to hit the ground running by July 1st.
We are excited to take this step forward for EOLONM. Our work has gone beyond the capacities of a few hard working volunteers to professionally manage and continue to grow our efforts into more rural and diverse communities. We expect that over time Julia will connect personally with many of our generous supporters and identify ways to reach out to others who would like to support the cause but may not be aware of our work. Similarly, there are many foundations and other potential sources of funds to support our efforts that can be approached, educated, and convinced that “quality of life at the end of life” is worthy and that EOLONM is capable.
A Message from Our New Executive Director
Dear Friends of EOLONM,
Hello! How wonderful to be writing to introduce myself as the newest member of the EOLONM Team. It is an honor and privilege to be stepping into the role of Executive Director working alongside EOLONM’s stellar board, volunteers, and community members who have dedicated many years of hard work and perseverance to raise awareness about options and choices for care at the end of life.
EOLONM’s mission underscores that which I have been doing for the past twenty years – advocating for and supporting individuals’ right to lead full and dignified lives through education and caring relational support. EOLONM’s values of compassion, inclusivity, integrity and respect for individuals and their right to choose have similarly guided my personal and professional journey. From every child’s right to quality, equitable education experiences to now supporting people facing challenging medical decisions – every human being deserves the right to make choices for themselves with dignity and peace of mind.
I look forward to meeting you and learning from each of you to broaden and sustain EOLONM’s mission.
Please feel free to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more about Julia, please see her bio here.
National Clinician’s Conference Sessions Now Available
Last February, the 2023 National Clinician’s Conference on Medical Aid in Dying (NCCMAID) was held in Portland, Oregon. This exceptional and informative national conference was hosted by the American Clinician’s Academy on Medical Aid in Dying (ACAMAID) and the national nonprofit organization Death With Dignity. Founded in 2020, ACAMAID’s mission is to develop, improve, and support best practices for the care of patients considering or completing aid in dying. The 2023 conference gave healthcare providers and others the opportunity to delve into the most up-to-date clinically relevant information about the practice of medical aid in dying. In addition to the clinical sessions, there were also excellent panel discussions on grief support, ethics, hospice, nursing, and more.
The conference sessions were recorded and recently ACAMAID made the videos available to watch free of charge and only requests a small fee for people who would like continuing education credits. The state of New Mexico’s new law was discussed throughout many of the sessions. For an understanding of how the New Mexico law builds on the successes and avoids some of the challenges of other state laws that came before, watch Thaddeus Pope’s session on “State Differences.” For information on receiving continuing education credits, contact ACAMAID at ACAMAID@ACAMAID.org.
EOLONM on Facebook
If you have not checked out EOLONM’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EOLONM/), you are missing out! Our page has undergone some significant development over recent months with a fast growing following and some fresh, new content.
One of our many talented and skilled volunteers, Josephine Levy from Santa Fe, began serving as administrator of our Facebook page last month. Her posts have been insightful, empowering, impactful, compassionate, and fun! Take a minute to “like” or “follow” us on Facebook. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of some of Josephine’s most recent posts:
Paw-fect Summer Reading (& Video) List
Take advantage of the many popular books and videos that help us understand more about issues surrounding end of life. Find our favorites here: https://endoflifeoptionsnm.org/end-of-life-films-and-books/
The ability to recognize and communicate our needs can help us live a life marked by connection and joy. We can learn from one another. Keep in touch, reach out, savor your days as if they were the little candy bar you forgot you had in the drawer.
Happy Anniversary to the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life-Options Act!
Medical aid in dying (MAID) allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of six months or less to live, the option to request, obtain and self-administer medication to die peacefully, if and when they choose. The Act went into effect on June 18, 2021. Read about it here: https://endoflifeoptionsnm.org/…/about-the-end-of-life…/
Gifts to EOLONM Made in the Name 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 acknowledge in this way. The following designated donations were made this quarter:
- Cheryl Ward a gift from Joyce Newman
- Inez Fillerup White and Luella Lane Fillerup a gift from Vennie Eline White
- In memory of and in love to our family a gift from Phyllis Landis
- James Gale a gift from Michael Collard
- James Matthew Gale a gift from Judy & Bob Williams
- Jim Gale a gift from Laura Murphy
- Jo Rutkowski a gift from June Rutkowski
- Louise Hall a gift from Adrienne Dare
- Adrienne Dare a gift from Barak Wolff and Leah Popp
- Bettye Nelson a gift from Damie Nelson
- Cheryl Ward a gift from Tim Matthes
- Jaffa Spiro a gift from Saguna Severson
- Linda Vanzi a gift from Edward Stanley and with love from the Rutkowski family
- Stephen Poland a gift from Robert and Robin Younger