Compassion and Choices with Florence Henderson

Florence Henderson was in San Francisco earlier this year to speak in support of the work done by “Compassion and Choices,” an organization that provides information and emotional support to mentally competent, terminally ill individuals seeking a peaceful death.

Florence Henderson, Merla Zellerbach

Florence Henderson and Merla Zellerbach

I had the pleasure earlier this year of being introduced by Merla Zellerbach to the legendary Florence Henderson. Ms. Henderson was in San Francisco to speak in support of the work done by “Compassion and Choices,” an organization that provides information and emotional support to mentally competent, terminally ill individuals seeking a peaceful death.

I was surprised to learn that Florence Henderson is a certified hypnotherapist (her late husband, Dr. John Kappas, was one of the most important figures in the development of the field), and that she considers it her true avocation in life. She told us about her personal decades-long experience in helping people prepare for their passing.

“In this role, I’ve had occasion to work with several people who were in transition,” she said, “And it’s truly a great, great gift to me to be able to do this work.”

Her husband is among those whom she’s helped. “Two days before my husband died, he asked me to put him in hypnosis, and asked me to take charge, and I did. And it was not easy. But I was so grateful and so proud that I could do that,” she said, explaining that through the hypnosis “he went into deep state of relaxation, and never really came out of it. That was his choice.”

She believes that it’s important for people who are dying to be able to have control over when and how they die. “If you let them know that they can make the decision, and that they are in charge, it makes all the difference. And if you can do this with compassion, with concern, and with care, it just means so much.”

“Compassion and Choices” relies on a staff of dedicated volunteers to provide counseling and support to patients and their families, to educate the community, and to advocate for improved end-of-life care, and end-of-life choice. As Merla Zellerbach pointed out to me, “This is an organization that’s new to mainstream San Francisco,” but it’s one which is gathering an impressive roster of supporters.

Gretchen de Baubigny, Deborah Hannah, Merla Zellerbach, Carol Doll, Mary Poland

Gretchen de Baubigny, Deborah Hannah, Merla Zellerbach, Carol Doll, Mary Poland

In addition to Merla, figures such as Dr. Dean Edell (who spoke at the event), Dr. Robert Brody, Dr. Robert Liner, Senator Mark Leno, Bishop William Swing, Rabbi Suzanne Singer and numerous other lawyers, doctors and community leaders are providing support to the organization.

Pamela Culp, Sam Leftwich, Bailey Hudak, Schuyler Hudak

Pamela Culp, Sam Leftwich, Bailey Hudak, Schuyler Hudak

Near the end of the presentation, Florence, still youthful and vibrant at 79, shared her own burial plans. She will be at Westwood Mortuary, near dear friends such as Carrie Burnett and Dr. Elsie Giorgi, and by a plaque for her husband. But she has two places reserved, she said. “Don’t ask me why, because I haven’t found the guy yet — but I picked out two places just in case I got lucky!”

Realistic about death, but optimistic about life. Perhaps that’s what has given Florence Henderson such strength and endurance, and made her such a comfort to countless individuals around the world, those who know her and those who’ve only admired her from TV.

Damion Matthews, Florence Henderson

Damion Matthews and Florence Henderson

Heroes and Hearts in San Francisco, 2013

San Francisco General Hospital Foundation recently held its eighth annual “Heroes & Hearts” awards luncheon.

Larry Baer, Mayor Ed Lee, Pam Baer

Larry Baer, Mayor Ed Lee, Pam Baer

The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation recently held its eighth annual “Heroes & Hearts” awards luncheon. For 2013, it was held on the field of AT&T Park, which presented an excellent setting for guests to view the one-of-a-kind 400 pound heart sculptures created by Linda Adreveno, Shay Davis, Pere Gifre, Saul Levy, Judith Lippe, Trinh Mai, Shilo Ratner and Betsy L. Wolff.

The award recognizes those who have demonstrated exceptional community service. Heroes include San Francisco Police Officers John Cathey and David Sands, Rochelle Dicker MD, and Oncology Social Workers, Carol Lam and Rachel Orkand, MSW, LCSW.

Sue Carlisle, Susan Currin, Mayor Ed Lee, Stephanie Bray

Sue Carlisle, Susan Currin, Mayor Ed Lee, Stephanie Bray

“This year’s heroes are exceptional leaders whose compassion and dedication has improved our community,” says Executive Director, Stephanie Bray.

“They are leading by example to help make San Francisco a better place for all its citizens. They have sought to improve the lives of former gang members in the Mission, to stop the revolving door of violent injuries in the City, and to provide quality and personal care for cancer patients. San Francisco General Hospital Foundation honors these local heroes in order to inspire others to create positive change in their communities.”

Charlotte Shultz, Judy Guggenhime, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White

Charlotte Shultz, Judy Guggenhime, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White

Pam Baer, Jennifer Brokaw – Dr. Shannon Tyne, Katie Albright

OJ Shansby, Lucinda Crocker, Cynthia Woods – Supervisor Malia Cohen, Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Mary Poland, Gretchen de Baubigny – Eleanor Myers, Lisa Goldman

Heart by Trinh Mah – Connie Shanahan, Kevin Shanahan

Merla Zellerbach, Hilary Armstrong, Helen Hilton Raiser – Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Charlotte Shultz

A Century of Commitment by JLSF

The Junior League of San Francisco recently celebrated 100 years in existence with a special dinner, “A Century of Commitment.”

Andra von Behren, Heidi Kuhn (guest speaker), Susie Hoganson (event co-chair & JLSF President 1991-1992), Trish Otstott (event co-chair & JLSF President 1998-1999), Lisa Grotts (dinner chair)

The Junior League of San Francisco, Inc. (JLSF) recently celebrated 100 years in existence with “A Century of Commitment,” a special birthday dinner catered by McCall’s.

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Debbi Bocci (former JLSF fashion show chair), Marsha Monro (former JLSF fashion show chair), Dolly Chammas (former JLSF fashion show chair)

The event was held in the Rotunda of City Hall, with Susie Hoganson and Trish Otstott as co-chairs and Lisa Grotts as dinner chair. To mark the event, a centennial scarf was given to guests, depicting the 100-year history. “Happy Birthday Junior League” was sung at the conclusion, with enormous gold and pink balloons dropping from the ceiling! Sponsors for the evening included Bank of the West, Deloitte, JCB Winery, CPMC Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, Niantic Corporation and KPMG.

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Lion Dancers from Chinatown ushered guests into dinner

Special guest speaker was Heidi Kuhn of Marin County, founder and CEO of Roots of Peace, an organization dedicated to the eradication of landmines worldwide. In 1997, Kuhn was inspired by the late Princess Diana’s humanitarian efforts to educate the world of the danger and destruction of landmines. She pursued the support of Napa Valley vintners to transform “mines to vines” by supplying grapevines to be planted in the ravaged grounds of the war-torn countries.

Paul Dean, Heidi Kuhn, Gary Kuhn, Shirley Dean

Paul Dean, Heidi Kuhn (guest speaker), Gary Kuhn, Shirley Dean

Shirley Dean and Paul Dean, dinner patrons and owners of Spiriterra Vineyards in the Napa Valley, made a $100,000 gift to begin the mine removal work in the area of Husan, a Palestinian community west of Bethlehem and southwest of Jerusalem. The Deans were inspired by Daniel Yuval, an 11-year-old Israeli boy who lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine in the Golan Heights.

Merrill Kasper, Layne Gray, Jennifer Johnston, Leslie Ryder – Marc Loupe, Anette Harris

JLSF President Jennifer Johnston shared her exuberance that night of the momentous event that celebrates the thousands of members both past and present. “Throughout our 100 year history, JLSF women have endeavored to be the first to identify the most pressing needs in the community and create the partnerships to best address those needs and make a lasting impact. I have no doubt that over the next 100 years we will see even greater results.”

Lily Samii, Lisa Grotts – Lisa Grotts, Debra Leylegian

And in her remarks, dinner chair Lisa Grotts noted that, “The training that League members received over the years set the foundation to help many other bay area non-profit organizations.” At the dinner were a sprinkling of those League and community volunteers: co-chairs Susie Hoganson and Trish Otstott, Sallie Hunting, Anne Marie Massocca, Gretchen de Baubigny, Anette Harris, Debbie Bocci and Dolly Chammas to name a few.

Eve Wertsch (former JLSF fashion show chair), Susie Hoganson (event co-chair & JLSF President 1991-1992), Teresa Briggs

Dolly Chammas

Dolly Chammas (former JLSF fashion show chair), Lynn Lubbock (former JLSF fashion show chair), Sallie Huntting (former JLSF fashion show chair)

Loree Dowse, Schuyler Hudak (former JLSF fashion show chair), Andra von Behren

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Bill Moore, Anette Harris (JLSF President 2000-2001), Belva Davis (former JLSF Watch honoree), Marc Loupe

Courtney Bocci

Front row: Wendy Armstrong, Courtney Bocci (former JLSF fashion show chair), Sophia Belloli / Back row: Jasmine Stirling, Sabrina Lowell, Michelle Curtis Harris (2013 JLSF fashion show chair), Kristen Hall, Devon Dievel, Sealy Livermore