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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Volunteer honored for her ‘compassionate’ care for grieving families

INDIANAPOLIS – After experiencing the loss of her baby during pregnancy, Teresa Kirkhoff later discovered a way to deal with her grief and help mothers and their families experiencing that similar nightmare.

She became a volunteer with the Caring Companions program at St. Francis Hospital’s Women and Children’s Services (WCS). The program is made up of volunteers – trained and certified as Resolve Through Sharing caregivers – who have lost children to miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

"I wanted to help other families who should celebrate the precious babies they will never bring home," said Kirkhoff, who is employed at Eli Lilly and Company as a Six Sigma "Black Belt" for global patient safety. "Volunteering enables me and other caregivers to provide support to parents during very painful, vulnerable times."

And her efforts to bring comfort to those folks will be recognized June 16 at the 2009 Jefferson Awards for Public Service in Washington, D.C. Established in 1972, the awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in the United States.

Kirkhoff was similarly honored by the Lilly Foundation in March, presenting her with Jefferson Awards Medallion grants for her work with Caring Companions. Lilly is among several major corporations and institutions throughout the nation with established Jefferson Awards recognition.

"Teresa brings a tremendous depth of compassion and understanding to those she works with," said WCS Director Lori Warner. "Like our other volunteers, she feels she has been called to share her experience and bring comfort to other mothers."

Kirkhoff also volunteers for St. Francis’ Memories to Hold, a support group for parents with a safe to share the stories and preserve the memories of their lost infants.

More information about Caring Companions is at Background about Memories to Hold can be found at