News and Updates

Below are the latest news and updates from Cornerstone Hospice. Be sure to check out our events section for a calendar of our upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

“On my honor...”

There’s no telling how many times 97-year-old Beatrice (Bea) Elliott has recited the Girl Scout Pledge. The USA’s oldest Girl Scout recently added one more to the list at an intimate gathering of family and staff from Cornerstone Hospice. 

When asked how long she has been a Girl Scout, Bea quickly answered, “my whole life” even though her days of wearing the uniform are long past. “I couldn’t fit into it anyway,” she said. 

Bea’s love of scouting was a perfect fit with her love of camping. She joined the organization at age 8 and was captivated by the outdoors, campfires, the singing before dinner. In fact, Bea learned to cook while in the Scouts. Her husband of 70 years, Ken Elliott (who passed in 2011), often said if he wanted a home-cooked meal he’d take his wife out into the woods. Her camp cooking was so much better than her kitchen cooking. 

People always ask Bea about the famous Girl Scout cookies. Yes, she sold them. “We carried the boxes. Back then your parents didn’t take them to the office and sell them for you. We carried all those heavy boxes door to door.” 

Bea earned every badge and has several huge collections of all her patches and pins, but it’s the memories she collected over the years that give her the most pleasure. In 1957, she traveled to Europe to represent the United States as America’s delegate at a Girl Scout World Camp attended by 76 countries. She got to meet the Queen of England and still keeps the white gloves she wore. Bea traveled often and was in charge of many Girl Scout round-ups over the years.

Bea smiled as she recounted her times in the Girl Scouts. Her memories were precious to all who shared the afternoon in her apartment at Brookdale Clermont. Now Bea has another special memory to add to her collection. Her two daughters — Carol Hanson of Clermont, and Judi Purcell of Pensacola, will certainly never forget the day. And the Cornerstone Hospice staff in attendance were reminded why they chose hospice as a way to serve and give back to their community.


Posted on Mon, 30 Mar 2015

Grieving Children Find Their Voice at Camp Bridges

Every spring, the good folks of Cornerstone Hospice turn their focus to children in Lake and Sumter Counties who have lost a loved one and may be having issues dealing with their grief.

Camp Bridges is a no cost, two-day, overnight camp for children age 6 to 11 years that provides structured activities that encourage group sharing, bonding and team building. 

Children participate in arts and crafts sessions that help them share their feelings. For instance, they make collages about themselves and their loss. They also decorate “bricks” honoring their loved ones and place it on the campground “bridge” (where Camp Bridges gets its name).

From a nature walk in the morning to stories around a campfire at night with lots of fun in between—swimming pool with slides, movie night complete with popcorn—Camp Bridges provides a much needed escape for youngsters.

“We often forget how beneficial it can be to get out in the great outdoors and leave the rest of the world behind,” says head camp and grief counselor Mike Barnett. “Camp Bridges reassures kids who may have felt alone and isolated with their grief that others feel exactly the same way they do. They can talk to their teachers, their parents or even me, but it’s not the same as sharing with peers their own age. The experience is powerful for them. And it’s healing.”


On May 2 and 3, Camp Bridges will celebrate its 20th anniversary of helping young ones deal with the pain of loss. The celebration will take place at the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Youth Camp, 4990 Picciola Road, Fruitland Park, FL 34731. For more information about Camp Bridges please contact counselor Mike Barnett at: 352.742.6808.

Posted on Sun, 29 Mar 2015

100,000 Story

L to R:  Women for Hospice Chairman of the Board Genene Rawls, Cornerstone Hospice Foundation Executive Director Nick Buchholz, Cornerstone Hospice CEO Chuck Lee, Women for Hospice board members Salley Thibodeau, Sue Ellen Ibach, and Mary Valbueno.


’Tis the season for giving indeed and the Women for Hospice volunteer group started this one off with a generous gift of $100,000 earmarked for Cornerstone Hospice. That makes four years in a row the charity-minded group presented Cornerstone with a $100,000 check at their Christmas luncheon. This year’s affair, held on December 4th, culminates a volunteer effort from the 250+ local residents that make up Women for Hospice. Most monies from the gift came from donations raised at the volunteer group The Hope Chest, an upscale resale shop in downtown Mount Dora. Other fundraising efforts included proceeds from the group’s monthly luncheons, a Variety Show and Game Month.  All of the proceeds go towards helping patients in Lake County.


“It is an exciting time for Cornerstone Hospice as we continue to grow and innovate. We work every day on patient and family challenges. With supporters like Women for Hospice, we see these challenges as nothing more than opportunities to rise to a higher level of care than some thought possible,” said Nick Buchholz, Cornerstone Hospice Foundation Executive Director.

Posted on Wed, 14 Jan 2015

She’s 104 and Ready to Party.

November was National Hospice Month and Margaret Scarfia staged a celebration of her own. With help from the folks at the Serenades Assisted Living Facility in The Villages, Florida, Margaret turned 104 surrounded by family and friends. Her daughter, Rosemary Scarfia, says about 22 people attend her Nov. 28 party, many traveling from out of town.

“It was a real celebration with balloons, food provided by Serenades, and drinks,” Rosemary said. “We definitely had wine. My mother likes her wine. And a cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberries.”

Asked about any secrets her mother may have about living to be 104, Rosemary says, “she lives one day at a time and just enjoys life. She always has a wide circle of friends and is very happy, very social. She lived independently in St. Petersburg (Florida) until she was 100-and-a-half and drove until she was 97!”

Margaret entered into the care of the team from Cornerstone Hospice in April 2013.

“We wanted to make her more comfortable and the Cornerstone team that’s taking care of her has been outstanding,” Rosemary said. “They’ve answered all of my questions, been very communicative, very well informed. They’ve been very supportive of my mother and our whole family. Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care truly is a wonderful organization and we should all be thrilled that an organization like this exists.”

Posted on Wed, 3 Dec 2014

Cornerstone Salutes One Of The Great Generation

Garry DeBoer was always “squared away,” a trait no doubt he learned in his time with the U.S. Army in World War II. So, it was not a surprise that, after he was diagnosed with cancer, he began planning for the time he might need hospice care several years before the fact. Always independent, Garry lived alone up to the time his bout with the illness finally confined him to a motorized wheelchair. But eventually, when his physician told him it was time, that he needed to consider hospice support, Garry was ready. He was one step ahead of everyone.


A Purple Heart recipient, Garry was extremely proud of his time in service of our country and found an extended, welcoming family with other American veterans at AMVETS Post 1992 in Mount Dora. One of his great delights was playing bugle in their Honor Guard. The Cornerstone SALUTES team was honored to conduct a pinning ceremony for Garry with all of his AMVETS family in attendance at their annual Chili Cook-off in October. Many in the Lodge were surprised to learn just how many WWII vets they had in their membership!


Garry DeBoer passed away Saturday, August 30, 2014 at the age of 91 years. Garry is

remembered and will be dearly missed by his daughters, Deborah McKay of Leesburg and Denise (Christopher) Patterson of Passaic, NJ; brothers, Everett (Elizabeth) DeBoer of Lady Lake, FL and Edward (Hao) DeBoer of Leesburg; 3 grandchildren, Wendy Merendino of Lawrenceville, NJ, Christopher McKay of Peachtree City, GA and Matthew Patterson of Clifton, NJ and 6 great-grandchildren.

Posted on Tue, 16 Sep 2014