Foundation provides cheer for hospice patients

Friday, November 28, 2008

When Nina Richey died this past spring, she left a legacy of generosity that is being carried on through a foundation at the Putnam County Community Foundation that bears her name.

Richey was also generous with her time and talents, and for the five years preceding her death she would decorate Christmas trees and take them to the Veterans Hospital in Indianapolis.

Richey's daughter, Nancy Deffendall, and Lorraine Smith, who was a caregiver for Richey when she became ill and entered hospice, have decided to take Richey's tree donation idea a step further.

The two women are coordinating the first annual Nina Richey Foundation Christmas Tree Drive, which will provide decorated Christmas trees for hospice or long-term health care facility patients and veterans.

Anyone who would like to sponsor a tree can do so for $25. The trees will be delivered to recipients in early December.

"Mama and Dad were just caring people," Deffendall said. "During their lifetimes, they helped a lot of people."

Richey was originally from Illinois. After Alvin died in 2003, she came to live with Deffendall and her husband Jimmy at Van Bibber Lake.

"Mama was raised on the farm, and she loved it at Van Bibber," Deffendal, who now resides in Indianapolis, said. "It was so quiet and peaceful there."

The Nina Richey Hospice Foundation fund is housed at the Putnam County Community Foundation. The fund provides financial support to terminally ill people and their families, paying for needs that are not covered by hospice or insurance.

"The foundation came about because I had a family member whose spouse was dying, and the spouse was being buried in Missouri and she couldn't afford to make the trip," Smith said. "Just after I hung up the phone with her, Nancy called me and said she just wished there was something she could do to help someone. Nina paid for the plane tickets so this woman could go to her husband's burial service."

Donations for trees can be sent to the Nina Richey Foundation in care of Horizon Hospice Care Inc., 7 N. Washington St., Danville, IN 46122. For more information on the Christmas tree drive or the Nina Richey Hospice Foundation fund, call Smith at (317) 718-7422 or the Putnam Coungty Community Foundation at 653-4978.

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