Give Like Freddie and Support The Hickman Today!

On: March 17, 2016

My name is Lara Dushkewich and along with my therapy dog, Freddie, I am proud to have been a Hickman volunteer for the past two years.

When I moved with my husband to Chester County a few years ago, I wanted to find a way to give back to the community in a unique manner. I had recently discovered Freddie’s gift while visiting with my grandmother– bringing happiness and peace to others. In the later years of her life, she was in various nursing homes and I could sense the positive effect that was created when Freddie visited. And that effect was contagious as many times after visiting my grandmother, the nursing staff asked that we visit others who needed the love and patience that only a therapy dog can give.

After my grandmother passed, I decided to go through the process to have Freddie officially certified as a therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International. We decided to join this organization as it gave us the flexibility to select facilities to work with and gave us a list of agencies looking for help. That was when we were introduced to The Hickman.

Upon our initial visit to The Hickman, I realized this was very unlike the facilities that my grandmother stayed at. Even with private facilities, I was used to visiting her in an institutionalized home, two to three patients to a room, and a sense of despair – from the residents to the staff – due to an overtaxing of their system.

The Hickman is a very different environment for seniors and I believe it is because it is based on values that resonate with the residents, staff, volunteers, administration, and the board. It is not that everyone is a Quaker – in fact the sense of diversity and inclusion is demonstrated throughout – but the guiding principles that each human life is sacred and The Hickman promotes equality, respect for differences, and the dignity of people brings an environment of compassion and empathy for all.

It is because of these values and the appreciation for all who help the residents of The Hickman is why Freddie and I visit every other week. The residents (and staff!) light up when Freddie comes through the door and through each interaction, Freddie personalizes his love, calmness, and sense of peace that leaves the person feeling better than before we arrived. These residents have become our friends and we enjoy each time we visit with them.
As I feel strongly about the commitment that The Hickman gives to the community and appreciate the level of care they give their residents, I agreed to share my story and ask others to join me in supporting this organization. Some of the residents that we visit may have exhausted their financial resources and are unable to pay for the increased care they need to remain at The Hickman. As I saw with my own grandmother, this requires residents to move elsewhere and this disruption causes anxiety for them as they leave friends and the community they formed behind.

At The Hickman, no resident has had to leave for financial reasons and the administration is committed to that standard. But to do so, support is needed from people like you in the form of a donation to The Hickman Annual Fund. I have come to learn the unfortunate news that 2016 will be the first year in The Hickman’s history that requests for financial assistance will exceed available funds. To help The Hickman continue its rich tradition of assisting residents in financial need, please consider the difference that your donation will make to the life of a resident that will allow them to remain and thrive in this community.


Lara Dushkewich and Freddie, TDIA, THD, CGC

Volunteers of The Hickman

P.S. The ability to meet the growing need for financial assistance is dependent upon you…please help by donating to The Hickman today. Please click either of the buttons below to make your gift now:


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