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Aarthun honored for volunteer work at Aspirus Hospice House

Jan 16, 2009

‘Cooky Lady’ donates money to hospice care

WAUSAU, Wis. – Reese Aarthun has volunteered at the Aspirus Hospice House for 10 years, and her compassion has been rewarded with a gift she is passing along to the patients and families she serves.

The Liberty Mutual Foundation recently awarded Aarthun one of three 2008 Chairman’s Community Service Awards for her volunteer work at the Aspirus Hospice House. Award recipients receive a $10,000 gift to donate to the charitable organization of their choice, and Aarthun made her donation to the Aspirus Health Foundation to benefit hospice patients. 

“I had no idea I would win,” said the 56-year-old Aarthun, who was one of 83 nominees from across the country. “I wish I could find a lot more money for the Hospice House, because it really becomes these peoples’ homes, and the staff is so wonderful and caring.”

Aarthun’s Wausau Insurance colleague Sherry Burnett nominated her for the award because of her caring and creative nature. During her time at the Hospice House, Aarthun has become known as the “Cooky Lady,” for all the baking and cooking she does for the residents.

In addition to visiting with patients and their families, Aarthun also bakes them cookies, makes their favorite meals, sings, organizes a New Year’s Eve buffet and other holiday celebrations, and also is a member of the grief team. As part of the grief team, Aarthun periodically calls families up to 13 months after the passing of a loved one to help them with their grief.

“When making bereavement calls, I can really hear a difference from the first call to the point when they get past the grief, and it warms my heart,” she said. “When I am able to retire I plan to keep going to the Hospice House and work even more at other activities associated with Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services.”

“We are blessed to have someone like Reese, who is so willing and devoted to enhancing the level of care for our patients and their families,” said Jean Burgener, Vice President of Aspirus Extended Services. “We are honored she chose to share her gift with Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services.”

Along with her work with Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services, Aarthun also is a 16-year member and choreographer for the local singing group Center Stage. She is active in her church and is involved in Festival of Trees and other fundraisers and community events.

In 2004, Aarthun was honored by the Wausau chapter of Altrusa International for her community service, and also was nominated for the 2008 WAVE (Wisconsin Award for Volunteer Excellence) Award and the United Way Volunteer of the Year Award. 

Contact: Greg Aune, 715.847.0479