'Touched By an Angel' Draws Big Crowd for Hospice

The National Museum of Dance was filled with more than 450 attendees for Community Hospice’s 22nd annual “Touched By an Angel” benefit on Thursday, Oct. 19. Upon arriving, guests were greeted by young women in angel outfits and handed a map with the locations of 20 restaurant, food and beverage providers – a culinary cross section of the community, organized each year by Tony Panza of Panza’s Restaurant.

Guests were invited to stop by the Memory Tree to obtain an angel memento, enjoy champagne and sample offerings, from aperitif to dessert, placed throughout the Dance Museum’s Rotunda, Hall of Fame, and North and Southeast Galleries. One could not walk more than five paces in any direction without being tempted by offerings from old favorites, to new discoveries.

Community Hospice’s Barbara Ecker has helped to organize the last 20 of these annual events. “When I came in year three, we had a nice tight list of a handful of restaurants, and the in-kind donor list filled about a page,” she said. “Now we have 32 pages, with 10 of them just restaurants and food purveyors alone!”

Guests sampled offerings from the Hall of Springs, Kraverie, Mama Mia’s / Bravo, Omelette King, PJ’s BAR-B-QSA, Saratoga Golf and Polo Club, Saratoga Spring Water, Wishing Well, Backstretch Barbeque, Ben & Jerry’s, Brown’s Brewing Co., DZ Restaurants, Longfellows, Olde Bryan Inn, Panza’s, Parkside Eatery, Chez Pierre, Mexican Connection and Saratoga Juice Bar.

Preliminary totals showed that donations of $98,000 had already been received in-house, with money still coming in – so topping $100,000 in proceeds from this year’s benefit is a virtual certainty.

The angels among us that evening were a smile-inducing, powerful reminder of the reason why people mark this event on their calendars far in advance, year after year. Community Hospice, located at 179 Lawrence St. in Saratoga Springs, serves more than 4,300 seriously ill patients and their families every year.

“The elderly, terminally ill and dying are among the most vulnerable people in our society,” the Community Hospice website reads. “Incredible advances in medical care and social services haven’t ended the tragedy of people dying alone or in pain.”

Meeting the needs of the vulnerable is the organization’s goal. Its mission statement: “The Community Hospice serves seriously ill people and their families during the process of dying and grieving. We enhance quality of life with comprehensive, compassionate services that respect the dignity of those we serve.”

As guests departed, they were handed a single white rose that delicately reminded all about that vulnerability. The good will that was imparted that night still lingers.

For more information about Community Hospice, visit communityhospice.org or call (518) 581-0800.

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