Devotion to hospice care to be recognized

EVERETT — When Jeanne Metzger left The Herald in 1990, after nearly 30 years at the newspaper, it wasn’t for a traditional retirement.

“I got a business card, ‘Metzger Enterprises,’ and tried to figure out what to do. It would come to me,” she said Thursday.

In more than two decades since her Herald retirement, Metzger has devoted her time to a noble cause — hospice care.

“My goal is to emphasize the importance of excellent, compassionate end-of-life care,” said Metzger, 82, who lives in Everett.

On Thursday morning, at the Breakfast with Bethany fund-raising event, Metzger will be honored with the 2013 Raili M. Hanson Inspirational Award. The annual award, started in 2011 by the Bethany of the Northwest Foundation, is named for the late Raili Hanson, a longtime volunteer and board member with Bethany.

Bethany of the Northwest, a nonprofit organization, provides nursing care, rehabilitation services, assisted living and senior apartments at several Everett area facilities. Raili Hanson, who died in 2010, spent much of her career as a registered nurse in the mother-baby unit at Everett General Hospital. She was the wife of former Herald publisher Larry Hanson.

Jim Stephanson, Bethany of the Northwest Foundation’s director of development, said Friday that he, Larry Hanson and Bethany of the Northwest CEO Denney Austin selected Metzger for the annual award. Breakfast with Bethany is scheduled for 7 a.m. Thursday at the downtown Everett Holiday Inn.

Metzger started at what was then The Everett Herald in the 1960s. “I took time out to raise our four daughters,” she said. She later became the paper’s society editor, then editor of a features section called Today’s Living. Before retirement, she was The Herald’s business editor.

After decades as an editor and writer, Metzger left the paper and was soon volunteering for Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County. Trained as a volunteer, she became chairwoman of the agency’s former advisory board. In 2010, Metzger became a founding member of the Providence Hospice and Home Care Foundation Board.

She is now a member of Providence Northwest Washington Region board of directors and serves on the Snohomish County Palliative Care Council. At the state level, Metzger has long been a member and consumer representative on the Washington State Hospice &Palliative Care Organization board of directors and is editor of that group’s newsletter.

With her late husband Harry Metzger, she was among the founding families of the charitable Greater Everett Community Foundation, where her daughter, Maddy Metzger-Utt, is now president and CEO.

Metzger said her interest in end-of-life care came from both personal and professional experiences. Her late husband’s mother suffered from terminal cancer long ago, before hospice care was available. When several friends at The Herald lost spouses, she saw how arduous the grief process can be.

She also remembers editing a Herald feature story that followed a family as a loved one was dying. “It was such a powerful piece. I think I tucked that in my mind,” she said.

Metzger is honored to receive an award named for Raili Hanson, whom she knew for many years. “After she retired, she started volunteering for Bethany. She was just passionate about that work,” Metzger said.

Humbled by the inspiration award, Metzger said real accolades should go to hospice volunteers and staff who directly serve families. “What I do is go to meetings,” she quipped.

“There are respite volunteers who relieve family, and sit with a dying patient. There are vigil volunteers for families to call, who will be with the loved one in the final stages. It is just amazing work,” Metzger said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Breakfast Thursday

Breakfast with Bethany, a fundraiser for the Bethany of the Northwest Foundation, will be held at 7 a.m. Thursday at the downtown Everett Holiday Inn, 3105 Pine St. Proceeds benefit residents of Bethany’s Everett area facilities serving elderly and disabled people. To RSVP or for information contact Jim Stephanson by email at: jims@bethanynw.org or call 425-551-6403.

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