By: Laura Collins
The Goldsboro News-Argus

About 70 people gathered Tuesday afternoon for the Kitty Askins Faith Initiative Kickoff.

Kitty Askins Hospice Center, which is owned by 3HC, is in the midst of an expansion which will add 13,000 square feet to the facility and double its occupancy to 24 beds. The center is expected to be finished in December and ready for patients in January or February. The original opening date was geared for the end of 2010, but was pushed back because of a slow start due to rain.

At the faith initiative kick-off, Kitty Askins officials asked area church leaders and members to pray for their expansion and also help the organization through volunteering and donations.

Dean Lee, president and CEO of 3HC, was the luncheon’s keynote speaker.

“Unfortunately most folks don’t know what Kitty Askins really is,” he said. “We add life to the days that remain. It’s about comfort, care, quality of life and it is about living. It is not about dying.”

Lee said in addition to physical care they also provide emotional care, grief and bereavement counseling and spiritual care.

Kitty Askins, which was built in 1995, had a 60-70 patient long waiting list in 2006. Now that number has tripled, Lee said.

“Our goal is simply this, to eliminate the wait list and always have a bed available,” he said. Lee also provided new details about the expansion including the addition of porches on each room and
doorways wide enough to roll the bed through.

“Just because they’re bed bound, doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel the sunshine on their face,” he said.

The building will also be LEED certified, the first LEED certified hospice building in the state, Lee said.

So far into the organization’s capital campaign, they have raised $2.6 million of their $4 million goal.

“It’s because of you this project is under way,” Lee told those in attendance. “We kicked this thing off when the economy went south. The first thing I thought was, ‘Lord, what are we going to do?’”

He said that’s when he turned to prayer, and the outcome of the campaign has “restored his faith in the common man.”

To help reach the $4 million, a Mount Olive committee has set a goal to raise $100,000. Cathy Fonvielle, a Kitty Askins volunteer, leads up the Mount Olive group. She said her dad was at Kitty Askins for 18 months and it became a home away from home.

“Each and every one of you that have ever had contact with (the staff at) Kitty knows that they are family,” she said.”

Her father died in May 2008 and in October of that year, she became part of the expansion campaign and began the Mount Olive campaign. She said they contacted area churches and 11 people attended their first meeting. Now, more than 30 people representing area churches attend the meetings. Fonvielle said the group came up with different ideas to raise money and said that churches are taking up a collection for the campaign one Sunday in October. Already the Mount Olive group has raised $40,000.