Elise Lark had a vision of a community-based end-of-life care environment long before it became the subject of research for her doctoral thesis. In her role as an oncology social worker, Lark witnessed the impact of barriers to accessing quality end-of-life care and a lack of alternative care options for patients and their families. This fueled a passion to create a “good place to die” in her community.
Her search led to the discovery of the Home for the Dying model, followed by on-site visits and interviews with a number of Home directors and community leaders. The Homes proved to be a perfect match for Lark’s personal aesthetic and professional ethical sensibilities. This marked the beginning of an exhilarating journey—a doctoral research project that evolved into a life project and a shared dream. Early on, community leaders Barbara Sarah and Laurie Schwartz served on her research planning committee, acting as a sounding board for her vision and findings and were joined later by Kevin Kraft. These four became co-founders of Circle of Friends for the Dying (CFD) in 2012.
The mission of CFD is to create and maintain the first Home for the Dying in the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York. It is envisioned that the Home will serve as a model and a resource center for promoting community-based end-of-life care solutions, public and professional education, inter-generational volunteerism, and environmental stewardship, and will inspire grassroots initiatives in surrounding communities.
In November 2015 Circle of Friends for the Dying completed the purchase of a house in Kingston, NY, that will become the first Home for the Dying in the Mid-Hudson Valley. The CFD history is only just beginning.