Recognition & Awards

Annual Hospice & End of Life Care Awards

On August 29, we celebrated our 2016 Hospice & End of Life Care Award Recipients at our 40th Anniversary Luncheon Gala. Click here for a presentation of The Carolinas Center’s 2016 Award Winners.

2016 End of Life Care Award Winners

Peter Keese Leadership Award: Pat Soenksen, President & CEO, Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, Greensboro, NC

Pat Soenksen & Peter Keese

Peter Keese presented the award to Pat Soenksen.

This year’s recipient is Pat Soenksen, President & CEO of Hospice & Palliative Care of Greensboro. Pat has an extensive and impressive career in healthcare administration and joined Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro in 2007. Pat was nominated by Paul Russ, Vice President of Marketing & Development, who writes, “Pat has been a tremendous asset to HPCG, inspiring and challenging our staff and Board to rigorous standards of excellence and compassion. Under her watch, HPCG has continued to solidify its distinguished reputation among hospice programs locally, statewide and nationally. She has managed our growth against a backdrop of challenging economic times, increased regulatory burden, and rising competition. In addition, Pat has been an active member of The Carolinas Center and an engaged advocate of hospice care. Throughout her career, Pat has mentored emerging talent, including many hospice leaders. She embodies the leadership qualities and characteristics appropriate for recognition of the Peter Keese Leadership Award.”

Tamra West Leadership Award: Robert Todd, MD, Medical Director, HospiceCare of the Piedmont in Greenwood, SC

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Marisette Hasan, TCC’s Vice President for SC Operations, presented the award to Dr. Todd.

This year’s recipient is Robert Todd, MD, Medical Director since 2005 at HospiceCare of the Piedmont in Greenwood, South Carolina. In her nomination of Dr. Todd, Nancy Corley, CEO, described him as a board certified expert in Hospice and Palliative Care, a beloved teacher and mentor, a compassionate listener and a relationship builder. Nancy writes: Dr. Todd provides training and support to physicians and nurses who seek certification. He presents a monthly talk to physician residents on symptom management, and has collaborated with the local residency program to establish a Palliative Care track as part of their clinical rotation. He has provided leadership for the hospital ethics committee for a number of years. Dr. Todd actively serves on numerous local and state committees that address hospice and palliative care issues. If there is an issue in South Carolina that involves physicians and hospice, Dr. Todd will be at the table. In every aspect of his work and life, he shares his values and vision with the next generation of end of life care providers.”

Sharon O. Dixon Clinical Excellence Award: Kim Lowery, RN, BSN, CHPN, Director of Clinical Services, Hospice of Rutherford, Forest City, NC

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Carol Meyer, CEO of The Carolinas Center presented the award to Kim Lowery.

This year’s recipient is Kim Lowery, Director of Clinical Services, at Hospice of Rutherford in Forest City, NC. Kim began her career with Hospice of Rutherford 23 years ago and has been employed in a variety of capacities, each time assuming a more active role in leadership. She is currently responsible for the NC Hospice House and the entire home care program in Rutherford, Polk and McDowell counties. Rita Burch, CEO, describes Kim as “the go-to person clinically for over two decades. She is well respected for her approach to patient care, always ensuring that the staff go above and beyond for patients and their families. Her leadership and commitment to excellence has been key in fulfilling the mission statement of providing state of the art end of life care. Kim exemplifies this award.”

Palmetto Clinical Excellence Award: Catherine Wallenborn, LMSW, Social Worker, Lutheran Hospice of the Upstate, Greenville, SC

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Carol Meyer, CEO of The Carolinas Center presented the award to Catherine Wallenborn.

This year’s recipient is Catherine Wallenborn, a social worker with Lutheran Hospice of the Upstate. Catherine began her career as a hospice volunteer and ultimately found her passion in the bereavement department. Eventually, her compassion for end of life care grew to the point of returning to school to earn a social work degree and continue her service with hospice. According to Deborah Hoopes, Volunteer Manager, “Catherine has been on the Lutheran Hospice team for 3 years as a valued social worker, providing patients and family members with education, compassion and active listening. She is acutely drawn into a patient’s history and their unique journey --- honoring life stories as diverse as segregated military service during WWII, to compiling favorite recipes to leave to grandchildren. She is quick to see the needs of her team and support others with humor and presence in what she believes is her life’s calling.

Judith Lund Person Hospice Volunteer Award: Reba Barlow, Caldwell Hospice & Palliative Care, Lenoir, NC

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Judi Lund Person presented the award to Reba Barlow.

This year’s recipient is Reba Barlow, described by Brittany Bonn, Volunteer Coordinator, as “a fixture at Caldwell Hospice & Palliative Care. Over the last 5 years, she has provided patient companionship and caregiver relief; 11th hour support; assistance with gardening projects, special events and health fairs; and facilitated the Virtual Dementia Tour within the community. Reba is wonderful at building relationships with her patients and their families -- whether it means sitting quietly by the bedside, bonding over the UNC fight song, or offering unconditional compassion to a patient with a difficult and violent past. Her secret is that she leaves her problems at the door and focuses on what the patient needs that day. Reba has a calm but energetic demeanor and approaches new assignments with enthusiasm and positivity. Reba exemplifies many qualities one expects from a Hospice volunteer: compassion, respect, kindness, versatility, and selflessness. When you talk to her or to those she has served, this selfless desire to help those that need comfort is always evident, and proves that even though Reba jokes about not being able to say no, it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t want to, anyway. Reba is the kind of volunteer the Judith Lund Person Volunteer Award was created to honor. "

Spirit of Hospice Award: Jodi Belcher, RN, Gordon Hospice House and homecare, Hospice and Palliative Care of Iredell County, Statesville, NC

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Carol Meyer, CEO of The Carolinas Center presented the award to Jodi Belcher.

This year’s recipient is Jodi Belcher, a nurse in the Gordon Hospice House and the homecare program of Hospice and Palliative Care of Iredell County. In her nomination, Dana Bell, Hospice House Director, made note of Jodi’s professional and personal commitment to nursing, education, wellness, and patient and employee satisfaction. “She is a true leader by exceptional example to those she interacts with during one of the most difficult times of life, demonstrating integrity, honesty, and accountability in the scope of her practice. Jodi is veteran of various nursing specialties, but found her calling in the hospice community after losing her son to cancer.” Through education and practice, Jodi has been instrumental in bringing holistic and alternative therapies to HOIC, as well as to the community. Within the organization, Jodi has participated in numerous special projects, improving both education and quality of services. According to Dana, “Jodi is one of the reasons HOIC was given elite status and recognized as one of the top 2% of hospices in the nation. She radiates energy and enthusiasm and makes a very positive difference in our organization -- both for our patients and our colleagues.”
2015 End of Life Care Award Winners
2014 End of Life Care Award Winners

Peter Keese Leadership Award - Vicki Dougherty
As the Palliative Care Coordinator for Community Care Plan of Eastern Carolina (CCPEC), Vicki has gone above and beyond in promoting palliative care education for the population in this 27 county catchment area. She is currently a project team member on Vidant Medical Center’s End of Life Workgroup as a part of the IHI project “Conversation Ready” – a pilot to assure that hospitals and their staff are ready to accept decisions that patients have made regarding their medical treatment, and that their decisions are readily accessible.

Vicki is passionate about end of life issues, and giving patients and their families the leading role in decision making. She works tirelessly to promote these ideals to the communities we serve.

Sharon O. Dixon Clinical Excellence Award - Angelina Brittle
Angelina Brittle, BSW, has been a Social Worker at Vidant Home Health and Hospice since October 2008. Her contributions have created outstanding outcomes for their patients and families. Just to name a few: she mentored 25 students, in addition to several student groups; presented at least 100 times to various community groups, including churches, civic groups, case managers, support groups and student groups; participated regularly in Advance Directive Clinics in various roles (presenter/notary); and implemented a Pet Therapy Program!

She embraces every day and every encounter with professionalism, compassion and excellence.

Judith Lund Person Hospice Volunteer Award - Toni Marley
Toni Marley has been a volunteer for Hospice of Randolph County for the last 31 years! In those 31 years she has devoted over 8000 hours to patients and families. She is the only charter member who is still active today. As a patient volunteer she visits patients to offer support and to assist in any way possible.

As an avid cook and baker, she has been responsible for securing all of the desserts for the Auction BBQ. Through her leadership she has enlisted her friends and neighbors in an amazing fundraising effort. Over the course of time her baking has brought in over $20,000 for Hospice of Randolph County.

Her character is exemplified by her warm, caring spirit. She gives freely of her time and resources in such an unselfish way.

Spirit of Hospice Award - Pam Harper
Have you ever met someone whose entire demeanor says “How can I help?” A person who has a smile waiting for the smallest excuse to spread across her face? Someone who makes you feel better just being around them? Well, meet Pam Harper from Hospice of the Upstate!

It wasn’t long after Pam started, that she quickly became one of our BEST Home Care CNAs. Her well-rounded personality always brought out the best in our patients and their families. Pam was not just a CNA, but an advocate for each one of her patients. Her willingness to bounce back and forth between Home Care and Rainey Hospice House shows how flexible she is. Whenever there is a task at hand, Pam is ready, willing and eager to help.

She is one of our valued employees! Her longevity proves her commitment to our patients, their families and our organization.

2013 End of Life Care Award Winners

Palmetto Award - Pam Melbourne
Pam Melbourne joined Hospice of the Upstate as CEO in January 2004. Since that time she has been an advocate for end of life care at the local, state, and national level. She has embarked on several impressive building and renovation projects, and successfully progressed Hospice of the Upstate in technology and clinical excellence. Under Pam's leadership, Hospice of the Upstate has grown, serving more patients in the face of increased hospice competition and more stringent regulatory monitoring.

Hospice of the Upstate is a community driven organization led by a hands-on local Board of Directors. The organization was founded through the vision and effort of five community-minded Anderson women, who began Hospice of the Upstate in 1988. The organizational mission states that "Hospice of the Upstate provides compassionate, quality care to terminally ill patients and their families, while offering leadership and community education for end of life." As CEO, Pam Melbourne has been an excellent steward of that mission.

Sharon O. Dixon Clinical Excellence Award - Tandra Chandler
Tandra started her career with Hospice & Palliative CareCenter in Winston-Salem in May of 1993 as a certified nursing assistant. Her dedication to the best care possible for her patients and families was immediately recognized by her coworkers and supervisors. Tandra became the Team Leader for the nursing assistants after only a few years of service. She instilled in each of them the same dedication to quality care that she had always had for her patients.

Tandra also worked with her staff on their own goals in life. Being the mother of three children, she understood how hard it was to raise a family as well as work. She encouraged her staff to always be moving forward and not to give up on their dreams. Several of Tandra's staff have gone on to become nurses or have obtained other degrees because she would always encourage them to make better lives for themselves. Tandra has recently taken a new role in the agency by assuming the position of Clinical Care Scheduler. In her new role, Tandra arranges staff to cover Continuous Care cases, arranges replacements for staff that are on PTO and ensures that all aide visits are covered. Tandra also does quality calls on Continuous Care families to make sure that they are receiving the services that they need.

Judith Lund Person Hospice Volunteer Award Winners - Patty Williamson & Marilyn DeMarco

  • Patty Williamson pulls her Volkswagen Beetle under the shade of a tree in the parking lot, and we know what to expect: her dog will nap while she works, Patty will greet everyone she meets with her certainty that it will be a good day, and then she'll get started on her volunteer assignment for the day. A 25-year veteran of Caldwell Hospice volunteer service, Patty has fulfilled just about every type of assignment our organization has to offer: sitting with patients and families as an 11th-hour volunteer; documenting files in patients' charts for decades and recently training newer volunteers for this assignment; staffing our display board and greeting senior citizens at the annual Celebration of Life luncheon; feeding, picking up meals for, and sitting with restless patients in our patient care units; and transporting patients to doctors' appointments.
  • Marilyn DeMarco came to volunteer with Caldwell Hospice after her own son received hospice care. Marilyn has turned the tragedy of losing her son into a blessing for many. She has allowed her experience and personal pain to be turned into a wonderful ministry to others. She shares not only from her heart, but from her life. This personal experience has given her insight, compassion and understanding into what a family goes through. Since 1998 Marilyn has faithfully served as a hospice volunteer.

    From 1998 to 2007 Marilyn spent numerous hours providing respite care for patients in their home, enabling the loved ones to get a desperately needed break. Marilyn always showed great attention to each patient by seeking out their interests in order to engage them in things they enjoy, such as watching the Food Network or doing special crafts. Marilyn not only provided respite but also much needed companionship to both patients and struggling caregivers. Her ability to share from her heart and life has greatly enriched the lives of others. When providing in-home care, Marilyn was willing to tackle difficult cases. Patients and families loved the way she had the unique ability to bring them joy and make life more fun.

    Spirit of Hospice Award - Carmella Puccio
    Carmella Puccio embodies the "Spirit of Hospice". She has been a social worker for 26 years and has extensive knowledge and experience in helping others with community resources and emotional support. Carmella encountered extreme trials and adversity as a child. However, she has taken these experiences and allowed them to give her the ability to empathize and walk with others who are suffering. Carmella never broke; her roots just grew stronger in her faith and calling to help others. She never just "goes through the motions". Carmella genuinely cares with deep heartfelt compassion. Hospice is not just a job to Carmella, it is a way of life. She takes her patients and families to heart. In this trait lies her greatest strength.


  • Peter Keese Leadership Award (NC)

    Nominees must:

  • Be affiliated with a North Carolina hospice or palliative care provider or end of life care coalition that is a member of The Carolinas Center.
  • Have devoted significant time to promoting hospice care
  • Provide vision and innovation in approach to end of life care
  • Be involved in fostering relationships with strategic partners
  • Be involved in hospice care throughout North Carolina
  • Tamra West Leadership Award (SC)

    Nominees must:

  • Be affiliated with a South Carolina hospice or palliative care provider or end of life care coalition that is a member of The Carolinas Center.
  • Have devoted significant time to promoting hospice care
  • Provide vision and innovation in approach to end of life care
  • Be involved in fostering relationships with strategic partners
  • Be involved in hospice care throughout South Carolina
  • Sharon O. Dixon Clinical Excellence Award (NC)

    This awards recognizes excellent clinical care in a hospice professional of any discipline working in patient and family care.

    Nominees must:

  • Be a current member of a North Carolina hospice interdisciplinary team
  • Have consistently demonstrated excellence in clinical care for at least three years
  • Have consistently initiated unique, creative approaches to patient and family care
  • Have demonstrated exceptional commitment to interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Be recognized for contributions to quality patient and family care
  • Palmetto Clinical Excellence Award (SC)

    Formerly the SC Hospice Founders Award, this awards recognizes excellent clinical care in a hospice professional of any discipline working in patient and family care.

    Nominees must:

  • Be a current member of a South Carolina hospice interdisciplinary team
  • Have consistently demonstrated excellence in clinical care for at least three years
  • Have consistently initiated unique, creative approaches to patient and family care
  • Have demonstrated exceptional commitment to interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Be recognized for contributions to quality patient and family care
  • Judith Lund Person Hospice Volunteer Award (NC & SC)

    This award honors extraordinary hospice volunteers in both North and South Carolina. Volunteers in all roles are eligible.

    Nominees must:

  • Be a current volunteer with a hospice provider
  • Have been involved with the same hospice continuously for at least three years
  • Have demonstrated exceptional service with hospice
  • Exemplify the hospice philosophy
  • Spirit of Hospice Award (NC & SC)

    Nominees must:

  • Use humor effectively, creatively, and compassionately in their work with hospice
  • Have consistently demonstrated the spirit of hospice over time during all stages of development, teamwork, and/or personal circumstances