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"The most it can be:" Barn dance supports hospice (Video)

Sept. 27, 2013 at 4:27 a.m.
Updated Sept. 28, 2013 at 4:28 a.m.

Dana Mereness, a Crown Hospice employee, left, laughs with Ruth Mullenix, a resident of The Courtyard Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, as they share a dance while Retama Manor employee Angela Martinez, right, is spun around by her dance partner, Isidro Garcia, during the Crown Hospice fourth annual Barn Dance on Thursday at the Victoria Jaycees Hall. Joanna Countryman, program director for Crown Hospice, said  the event exceeded her expected turnout with almost 300 people in attendance.

The familiar sounds of country and oldie favorites pulsed through the packed Jaycees Hall on Thursday as area senior citizens, many donning cowboy hats and neckerchiefs, crowded the dance floor for the Crown Hospice fourth annual Barn Dance.

"The best part of today was seeing residents out there in the middle of the dance floor in their nursing home wheelchairs and walkers just getting down and smiling, having fun," said Joanna Countryman, program director for Crown Hospice, who arranged the event.

A wheelchair didn't stop Isidro Garcia from spinning his dance partner around the floor or Hazel Hubner from sharing a cheek-to-cheek slow dance with her partner during the free event, which brought residents from 10 nursing home facilities from Victoria and the surrounding counties to party from 2 to 4 p.m.

As much as Countryman enjoyed watching the seniors make the most of the afternoon, it may have been watching the staff, who served as their partners, that brought the most joy at the yearly event.

"Our nurses and volunteers deal with death and grieving every day," she said. "So anytime we can give back to the community and even to our staff and volunteers to put a smile back on their face, it makes all the difference."

Countryman estimated about 300 people attended the dance, which also featured performances by the Crossroads Country Cloggers and the St. Joseph High School Starlighters Dance and Drill Team.

Countryman hopes the event gave the community a more positive view of hospice care.

"When people hear hospice, they just kind of think the worst," she said. "Hospice is about making the end of life the most it can be."



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