2nd Annual CHI Mardis Gras Gala January 26th at the Eagles

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
CHI Health at Home & Hospice is hosting their 2nd Annual Mardis Gras Gala at the Eagles on Jan. 26. Last year, the nearly 200 people who attended had a great time enjoying a hearty appetizer, raffle drawings, games, door prizes, and a costume contest (costumes are encouraged but not required).
Hospice Liaison Susanne Olson was happy with the way the Mardis Gras event went last year.
“Last year was the first year and everybody that was there had a wonderful time,” she said. “We have added some new things and changed some things where we saw room for improvement, but most importantly everyone had a great time, and we hope even more fun this year.”
Attendees will be adorned with beads when they arrive and there will be masks to purchase with any free will donation if people so chose. There will be separate areas for dining and for the games and silent auction at the Eagles on the night of the event.
This event is the largest fundraiser for CHI Health at Home –Hospice, an organization which serves over 50 communities out of their Valley City office. They provide home health services and hospice care in and around the communities of Harvey, New Rockford, Carrington, Jamestown, Lisbon and Oakes, all the way down to the South Dakota Border. Olson emphasized the importance of CHI’s events like this one.
“In order to be Medicare-certified hospice, we are required to raise a percentage of our budget every year,” she said. “When we have fundraisers like this or memorials or apply for grants, it truly is vital to our livelihood. Rural North Dakota is reimbursed less than anywhere else, so fundraisers like this help to close the gap between the level of care covered by insurance and the exceptional care we provide.”
The fundraisers are especially important now, due to the ever-changing world of healthcare.
Our suppliers have had budget cuts and so they pass them along to us,” Olson said. “The sad thing is, we have no one to pass them along to so that makes us work harder and smarter. That’s why these events are so important to us.”
CHI Home Health Care & Hospice’s budget is stretched to cover more than the services its title names. They provide bereavement services with families for 13 months after the death of a patient, offer volunteer services and a “We Honor Veterans” program and also provide bereavement services to the community and support in the event of a tragedy.
“There is zero source of reimbursement for those services. When we raise money, it has to help offset those costs too,” Olson said.
“We also provide our services to people whether they have the means to pay or not. So if you have no insurance and no income, we’d still provide our services to you. That’s all part of the budget. That’s why these things are hugely important to us, but we’ve been blessed by people who make these happen.”
This year, sponsors and those donating silent auction items are helping raise funds with the Mardis Gras event and even Paul Leier, Big Hammer Music Entertainment, is donating a lot of his time and services to DJ for the event. The sponsors enjoy tables with drink and dinner tickets and other little favors, along with printed recognition and a sign at their tables. Each sponsor and donor plays a huge role in helping raise funds for the CHI’s budget, which stays local in the communities they serve.
“Hospice is a scary word, and people think it means that they’re dying now. We often hear from families, though, ‘we wish we would have called you sooner,’” Olson said. “When we can be in the home frequently throughout the week, we can catch changes early on before they get worse, before they have to go to the ER. Often times I tell families that it’s easier to put a spark out in the middle of the night than a fire in the morning.”
The goal, Olson added, is comfort––not just for patients, but also for families.
“People often think of hospice just as for cancer and for pain,” she said. “I like to share that sometimes we do special things.”
One of those special things Olson has been a part of involved a man in the nursing home whose wish was to have one final family meal.
“This gentleman raised buffalo, so all of his special family meals were usually buffalo roasts,” Olson said. “We had gotten a grant––which is not like Make a Wish, it’s small––but with the help of the discount from the meat locker and those funds, we were able to purchase the buffalo roast. The nursing home and our staff helped prepare the meal; the family brought in side dishes. And though the original intent was for it to be him and his five kids at this meal, it went to 30 of them, all of his immediate family except maybe one or two grandkids that couldn’t make it.”
The man had a wonderful time. He got his wish to share a special meal with his family, and he passed away only a week later.
“Those things, in my mind, are what’s more important than anything else,” Olson said. “If we can make a difference like that, it’s worth it. That’s what we’re here for.”
Olson wants to help the community become more informed about the services widely available through CHI. With more people utilizing their services, funds and local entities benefit more.
“If we could get the word out and get our services out more for people and let them know what we do so they can benefit from it, it helps the bottom line then too.
This time of year, individuals with lung and heart disease may find additional struggles for their health, especially with pneumonia. But
CHI can provide services to assist in that, too.
“They might have an exacerbation of symptoms and health decline. They go into the hospital and we can help them get over that hurdle,” she said. “It’s also not uncommon for us to discharge them come summertime when we’ve gotten them better.”
With the Mardis Gras event, the community can help CHI extend their reach, all while dressing up, winning prizes, enjoying a buffet, and having a darn good time. CHI staff and local businesses are selling raffle tickets now, giving those who purchase them the chance to win one of three incredible prizes.
“First place is a $900 Traeger grill, blanket, cover, and bag of pellets from Handy Hardware. Second is a gun [Smith and Wesson M&P M2.0 9MM] from Scheels worth about $550,” Olson said, “but if you win and don’t want the gun, you can just take the gift card with that amount to Scheels instead.”
Along with the Traeger Grill and Smith and Wesson, Olson said that there’s also a 75-pound meat bundle from Valley Meats up for grabs, a $320 value. Raffle and event tickets are available now and on the night of the party, Jan. 26. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The raffle winners will be drawn later in the evening. There’s even a chance for attendees to show off their flair for fashion, Mardis Gras style.
“Last year we had a costume contest,” Olson said. “The DJ asked whoever wanted to participate to come up front and he had them do a runway walk. Everyone clapped and we had a very nice prize for them, recognizing them for the time and effort in their attire.”
Sponsorship for the event is still available at a number of levels. All sponsors receive printed recognition and special perks. To secure your sponsorship, donate items to the silent auction, buy raffle tickets and/or event tickets, call 855-860-3464.