Bigger Sanctuary: Hospice volunteers raising $1M to add rooms

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Sanctuary Hospice House has launched a $1 million campaign to expand its ability to help the dying and their families.
The hospice is planning to add eight more patient rooms to its 16-bed facility in west Tupelo in response to the overwhelming need from the community.
“In 2010, we took care of 260 patients, but we had to turn away 354,” said Linda Gholston, executive director of the Tupelo hospice facility.
The effort to generate money – Campaign 354 – has been named in honor of those they couldn’t serve. The campaign will feature at least one fundraiser, Auction 354.
The planned eight-bed expansion won’t cover the entire demand, but it will allow them to care for about 150 more patients a year, Gholston said.
“We feel very good with our philanthropic community that we can support those eight beds,” Gholston said.
It’s important for the hospice not to outgrow its mission of caring for the dying and their families with love and dignity, said Tupelo business owner Lisa Hawkins, who is a member of the Campaign 354 committee.
“We want it to remain like a home, not an institution,” Hawkins said.
Sanctuary has received about $500,000 in donations and pledges toward the campaign, Gholston said. On July 21, Sanctuary will host Auction 354 in hopes of matching the current donations to cover the balance needed for the building project.
Already individuals have donated original art, trips, tickets to sporting events, college football memorabilia, puppies, furniture, spa day packages, said Sanctuary nurse Natalie Ellis, who is leading the auction effort with Joy Kellum. One donor has given tickets and backstage passes to “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
“Local businesses have been so nice,” Ellis said. “We always need more; nothing is too small.”
Plans call for eight patient rooms and a living room to be added in an L-shape addition to Sanctuary’s west wing.
In addition to the patient rooms, the project will expand parking, enlarge the kitchen and support spaces. Sanctuary will have to relocate a couple of trees and a bench, but the hospice’s gardens will remain intact.
Construction will take about a year, Gholston said. The Sanctuary board hopes to be able to start construction this fall, depending on the success of the campaign.
Sanctuary’s annual budget – including its home hospice service – is about $2 million. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance reimbursements cover about 70 percent of the costs of the care. Sanctuary covers the remainder of its expenses through donations, memorials and proceeds from Sanctuary Village Shoppe and Celebration Village.
Adding eight more rooms – 10 and 12 additional staff members – will likely raise those costs by $250,000, Gholston said, and increase the level of philanthropic support the hospice needs.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or

Auction 354
– 6 p.m. July 21

– BancorpSouth Arena

– Tickets: $10; tables start at $500

– Silent and live auctions

– $5,000 draw down, tickets available for $100
– Benefiting Sanctuary Hospice House’s Campaign 354

– Tickets are available at Sanctuary
Village Shoppe, Room-to-Room
Furniture or call (662) 844-2111

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