Chrissie Sloan of Westfield has community service in her blood, including a long family history of volunteering for the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care. Her most recent volunteer project won her the Girl Scout Gold Award for providing 50 iPhones, all loaded with music and the Face Time app, enough for every patient at the Center’s two residences to enjoy. Sloan is a member of Girl Scout Troop #40913 in Westfield and a freshman at Providence College in Rhode Island.

“I was thinking of ways to help people de-stress and researched music as beneficial for patients,” explained Sloan of her project, which she developed over a period of about 18 months and executed last summer. “I’m happy I could help such an amazing organization in this way.”

Her research led her to the non-profit organization with which her family has had a longstanding relationship. She worked on getting donations of iPhones and iPods to load playlists of various music genres, and hearing that the Center was looking into iPads for Face Time capabilities, she expanded the project to include that aspect. Face Time enhances communication by turning the devices into video phones.

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AT&T donated 50 iPhones and family and friends donated additional devices, money and more than 300 music CDs so Chrissie could create and load playlists into each one. She made a variety of playlists that would appeal to listeners of different ages, from children’s songs to classic rock to jazz and American standards. The lyrics were all vetted for appropriateness, playlists were downloaded from her computer over the course of several weeks, and she then tackled the technological workarounds necessary to install Face Time specific to this particular use.

“It was definitely worth it,” noted Chrissie. “The Center for Hope Hospice genuinely cares about everyone who comes through their doors, from patients and their families to the volunteers, and it’s so rewarding to see how much they are all enjoying the music.”

Benefits of music in healthcare settings

Music has long been proven beneficial to patients in various long-term care settings. It reduces anxiety and patient pain levels, alleviates feelings of isolation and disorientation, and provides opportunities for terminally ill individuals to reminisce as well as open up about fears of death and dying. As part of its holistic approach to care, The Center for Hope Hospice has volunteer musicians come to sing and play for patients at Peggy’s House in Scotch Plains and Father Hudson House in Elizabeth.

“We are so grateful to Chrissie for creating this project, which is bringing so much happiness to our patients,” said Frank Brady, president of the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care. “The individual phones enable each patient and their loved ones to enjoy music in a more intimate way and supports our mission to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those in our care.”

Making the Center for Hope Hospice a Family Affair

Three of Sloan’s grandparents received care at the Center for Hope Hospice and her parents, Bob and Marie are greatly appreciative of the comfort they received from Father Hudson and co-founder Peggy Coloney during difficult times. They also celebrated happy times there: Father Hudson married Bob and Marie at the Center chapel in 1991.

The positive impact the Center had on their lives was repaid in turn; the Sloans both served on the board of trustees and Marie joined the Auxiliary in 2001, serving in leadership roles and volunteering at the Hope Chest, the thrift store in downtown Westfield that supports the Center’s Charity Care Fund. As a youngster, Chrissie participated in the Auxiliary’s annual fashion show, she and her brother have volunteered at the organization’s 5K event, and the Sloans support the Auxiliary’s annual wine tasting fundraiser.

“The Center has always been a big part of our lives,” said Chrissie, “so we try to help out in any way we can.”

For more information about hospice and palliative care offered at the Center for Hope Hospice, or volunteer opportunities at its residential facilities, visit www.cfhh.org or call (908) 889-7780.