For anyone who was a fan of the 1970s/1980s “Little House on the Prairie” TV show, the character Laura Ingalls and pre-teen actress Melissa Gilbert were one and the same. And just as the program revolved around the good times and hardships of life on a farm in Minnesota in the late 1800s, so Melissa’s life has been one filled with challenges and achievements.
To all the world, she has had a remarkable career on the small screen and Broadway, as well as serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001-2005.
But behind the scenes, she learned at a very young age the pain of loss. Her adoptive father Paul Gilbert took his own life when she was just 11. At that point “Little House” patriarch Michael Landon took her under his wing, only to die of pancreatic cancer himself at the age of 54 when she was 27.
Perhaps it was through those losses that she “dedicated my life to ensuring that all chronically and terminally-ill children get to live and die with gentleness, dignity and the grace that they deserve.”
As a hospice advocate, Melissa has served as board president for the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition and president of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California. In recognition of her work, she was the recipient of the National Hospice Foundation’s Humanitarian Leadership Award.”
As Melissa told The Suncoast Post, “I believe the transition from life to the next life should be as revered and celebrated as the transition in, and birth. It’s part of the human experience and it’s something we need to teach people not to be afraid of. Because it’s going to happen and we have to find a way to make it gentle.”
Because of this appreciation of the role that hospice and palliative care provide individuals and their families, 2022 Each Moment Matters Co-Chairs Tucker Enthoven and her mother Julie Ford have just announced that Melissa will be the keynote speaker for the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Caring Fund’s signature fundraising event on Friday, September 23, at the Hilton Anatole.
The mother-daughter team know all too well how important hospice and palliative care are following their “personal connection to Faith Presbyterian Hospice due to their joint care of a close family friend.”
According to Forefront Living Foundation Philanthropy Coordinator Sarah Jones, “Tucker and Julie are wonderful examples of servant leaders. We are grateful for their empathetic hearts and dedicated support for the profound cause of end-to-life care.”
This past year the Faith Caring Fund provided
- 4,994 days of charitable care for patient who would have otherwise not received hospices services
- Over 3,500 music and massage therapy sessions
- 586 children with children’s grief services
Previously known as Presbyterian Communities and Services, Forefront Living is a faith-based non-profit comprised of Presbyterian Village North, the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center and Faith Presbyterian Hospice, the largest faith-based not-for-profit hospice provider in Dallas, as well as Outlook at Windhaven, currently under construction in Plano.
Sponsorships are now available here.
* Graphic/photo provided by Forefront Living Foundation