Evansville ‘angel’ gives comfort with cookies and coffee

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It hasn’t yet been a year for Allene Saunders volunteering in the kitchen of Deaconess’ Hospice House. Reaching into a bag of cookie dough, her Tuesday morning routine is underway.

“Oatmeal raisin, then we’re going to do chocolate chip,” she said. “Then we’ll do some sugar cookies.”

Sunshine is pouring in the window. She smiles, knowing a good day is ahead. She is using her talent and time to help people without much time left.

“I’ve always been a person to want to help someone,” she said. There’s no place she’d rather be. It’s her way of showing strangers, it’s okay to be in this strange place.

There is some comfort in cookies and coffee.

For six families, waiting for the inevitable, this world may look filled with darkness and despair. It’s her job to show their loved ones a comfortable way to heaven.

“They’re getting their wings and we want them to fly on.”

Saunders father got sick with Alzheimer’s, and she took care of him for 20 years. Her volunteering is a way to pay it forward. But she’ll tell you, the time spent is priceless.

Deaconess Chaplin John McCullen says volunteers like Allene make the Hospice House what it is.

Staci Holder, a nurse in charge, went a step further.

“She’s an angel,” Holder said. “They all are.”

After the cookies are done and coffee is brewed, Saunders pushes her cart down the hall, smiling and waving and anyone who walks by. That’s where she leaves her mark.

She handles the most devastating and soul-crushing part of life with such grace – in the way only an angel could.

“Getting ready to get his wings, right?” she says, embracing a family member. “Can I give you a hug?”

She quietly walks into every room, asking if there’s anything they need. Cookies and coffee are a popular morning snack.

After her rounds, there’s nothing left to give… But it seems her giving never ends.

“Make a pot of chili,” she laughed. That’s next on her to-do list.

In a world where we can be anything, Allene the angel decided she will live for others.

“It’s just God’s blessing that I’m able to do this,” she said. “It’s not about getting, it’s about giving.”

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(This story was originally published on mmmmm dd, 2017)

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