Charity June/July 2015

ViVA! 2015 On Safari with Haven Hospice

Written by Erica Brown

ViVA! 2015 – On Safari with Haven Hospice

“It is always so exciting to see so many people out supporting Haven Hospice,” said Haven Hospice Fundraising and Special Events Coordinator Stephanie Brod about ViVA! 2015, an African safari-themed fundraising event held on April 18 at Rembert Farms. Over 650 attendees enjoyed music by the University of Florida Africa Choir, incredible food from Blue Water Bay, live and silent auctions and a display of African art from local collectors. All proceeds from the event will benefit the unreimbursed programs and services that support Haven Hospice patients and families.


UF Students Bring Comfort, Care and Compassion to Haven Hospice Patients and Families 

“I found out about this club in freshman year and have been involved ever since,” said Melyssa Godfrey, a junior at the University of Florida pursuing a major in health education and behavior.

During the past school year, Melyssa held the position of secretary for Gators for Haven Hospice (G4HH), a UF organization established for the purpose of networking volunteers for Haven Hospice, a nonprofit organization that provides palliative care as well as hospice services and programs to patients and families in North Florida for over 36 years.

“When other students ask me about Haven, I first ask them if they know what hospice care is,” said Melyssa.

Throughout the year, Melyssa and the other members of G4HH are involved with philanthropic activities such as providing volunteer services at HarborChase, an assisted living facility, and at the Haven Hospice E.T. York Care Center; building a float for the UF homecoming parade; tailgating at football games while educating others about Haven Hospice; and participating in Relay for Life. Members also volunteer at Haven Hospice signature fundraising events such as ViVA! and the Run for Haven.

“Haven Hospice is a great organization with strong core values that the staff exemplifies in their work every day,” Melyssa said. “It is a rewarding experience to volunteer there, and it gives students the opportunity to have unique patient contact with flexible hours so they can choose what fits best into their schedule.”

G4HH President Gabriel Diaz emphasizes the unique aspects of the volunteer work when he meets with interested students.

“I tell new members that this club offers the opportunity to work one-on-one with patients and their families with the ultimate goal to make those last few months, weeks, days or even hours as special as possible,” he said.

Unlike a majority of student members of G4HH, Gabriel is not majoring in a healthcare field. A graduating senior majoring in marine science, Gabriel became passionate about volunteering after helping create a mural for Haven Hospice.

“A lot of pre-med students and others who are majoring in healthcare fields have only a superficial knowledge about patients experiencing the end of life,” Gabriel said. “When they join the club and volunteer, they come to understand what palliative care and hospice care are all about and how amazing the experience can be for the patient and family (to have) quality of life at the end of life.”


About the author

Erica Brown