It seems death has been a companion since I was 14 years old. Unexpected, I was told that my dad had collapsed and died in a restaurant. Ever fearful from that time onward, it seemed like I was always looking over my shoulder for it to happen again…suddenly. And it did! In 1997, my husband and I were suddenly faced with the devastating news of his terminal diagnosis. Overwhelmed by the news, I wanted to run away. I was not ready to face death, not yet anyway! But by the grace of God, the continued care, conversation and compassion from hospice, I finally faced my fears. After a year of rest and reflection, I decided to become a hospice volunteer and share what had been given to me and my husband. Little did I know, at the time, hospice would open a new career path for me. When my family learned, I was going to work for hospice, they were astounded. They couldn’t believe it. Mary Ellen, who always wanted to keep her distance from death, going to work for hospice. A miracle!
Growing and strengthening my career within hospice steered me towards becoming a hospice executive director and CEO. Achieving a Master Degree in Management, late in my life, served me well in hospice leadership. Early on, I received widespread recognition for my leadership and vision in expanding end-of-life services throughout the mountain communities of Western North Carolina. I collaborated and coordinated the design of two hospice inpatient units, one in North Carolina and the second in Maryland.
I became known as a hospice entrepreneur and gained a reputation for supporting cutting edge ideas in the field of hospice while continuing to look for opportunities to better serve the dying in their communities.
Now a veteran hospice CEO and hospice volunteer, I continue to fuel my passion for end-of-life care. Armed with rare vocational vision, education and twenty years of hospice experience it seems only fitting for me to launch my business, Doulagivers of North Central Florida, and participate with other entrepreneurs who are providing the training and certification for End-of-Life practitioners who are leading the way in the support and care for the dying.