October 21, 2019
Congratulations on Receiving the Evergreen Award, Cindy!
(Read the full speech below)
This year’s Evergreen Award Recipient embodies the leadership, development and selfless skills and traits common in all of our illustrious recipients of this Award. This woman is sensitive, compassionate, and empowered - borne out of life’s experiences and keen observation of what is needed or missing in her ‘ideal world’. She is also intelligent, brave and driven and went on to achieve an advanced degree, which enhanced her abilities and created opportunities for her to pursue her agenda of helping our most vulnerable and compromised people.
She has high ethical and moral standards, which included never losing the importance of family and friends. Her steadfast commitment to their well-being and needs simply made her even more effective in understanding and meeting the needs of so many in our community. Through her career she has been a huge supporter of numerous charitable organizations as an individual and through her work place; some of which include:
- Lake Superior Community Partnership and the Greater Ishpeming/ Negaunee Chamber of Commerce
- First Nighter’s Club
- Toys for Tots
- TV6 Can-a-thon
- Retired and Senior Volunteer Program
- Disabled American Veterans Van Fund
- Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL)
- Alzheimer’s Association
- American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life
- Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
- Great Lakes Center for Youth Development
- United Way of Marquette County
- Many of the local school districts
She quickly became a trailblazer or pioneer and through this trek into then, here-to-fore, unmarked territory. She mentored many women to excel and achieve leadership positions. She set an example for women and girls and proved that if you want something and work hard enough at it, then you can make it happen and anything is possible. I, for one, always find it difficult to believe in the power of 1 and yet history shows us that all major changes, movements, new innovations, establishments and organizations do start with 1. Our candidate is in that category. Up until now, I have deliberately described her broadly but cannot continue without putting these laudatory remarks into context which will, then, quickly reveal her identity to all of you.
As a girl, she experienced the agonizing death of her mother at age of 31 who left 3 young children. When our recipient was a young woman, tragedy followed again when her stepmother lost a battle to cancer at the age of 38 and now leaving behind a total of 6 children; 4 were still school-age living at home. As was the normal practice in the 50’s and 60’s, her mothers spent their last days dying and alone in the hospital. This had a profound effect on our recipient and she was determined to find a better way to care for terminally ill patients. She saw how the then current practice adversely affected children and their lives afterward for many years. Yes, she became sensitive, compassionate and empowered largely because of these experiences which had affected them all.
Our recipient went on to pursue a nursing degree; Bachelor of Science in Nursing as a non-traditional student in the first class of the NMU BSN program. She was turned away from the hospital St. Luke’s nursing program because she was married and had a small child. In fact, she was told she belonged at home taking care of her husband and child.
In doing research for her BSN she came across the word ‘Hospice’ and a woman named Cicely Saunders who was unknown at the time to her nursing instructors. But, our recipient was intrigued and began corresponding with her. Cicely Saunders was Founder of the Modern-Day Hospice movement in England and the World. Our recipient was convinced this was a better way of caring for others.
Our recipient continued her Nursing education and learned more about 'Hospice Philosophical Care’ which she introduced to the U.P. in 1973 by starting a small volunteer hospice program with the help of her mentors/Instructors and Dean of the Nursing Program. Imagine! This was the first hospice in the state of Michigan and one of the first three in the country! This exemplifies the intelligent, brave and driven attributes that fueled her pioneer spirit. She could now offer and build on a compassionate and caring system to patients and their families diagnosed with a life-limiting disease. She inspired many to join this worthy goal.
After establishing the volunteer hospice in 1973 (currently U.P. Home Health & Hospice), she also established the stand-a-lone Lake Superior Hospice program in 1979. She has maintained her association with U.P. Home Health & Hospice, helping it to grow to become a comprehensive home health, hospice and private duty agency, which focuses on continuity of care of each patient. She has been a vital part of the ongoing growth and improvements to this program over the past 46 years. To accomplish these ends entailed much work. She had to create her own team from the ground up and that included training (educating and supporting and mentoring) her team on how to take care of hospice patients and instill the hospice philosophy in them; a daunting task!
She also helped educate and promote the development of “local” hospice programs to meet the unique needs of each community across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As a result, many consider the U.P. of Michigan as the cradle of the hospice movement in the nation. In the late 70’s there were more hospice programs per capita in the U.P. than anywhere else in the country! The field was and still is dominated by women and our recipient continues to mentor nurse managers and administrators in both the philosophy of hospice and home-based care.
She was a charter member of what is now called: Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Michigan. She sought and achieved certification of her programs from the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) and was invited to be a member of their Board of Review. As a result she was instrumental in developing the CHAP Hospice Standards of Practice and became a Senior Auditor/Site Visitor for CHAP to help other programs throughout the nation to provide the highest standards of care.
Throughout her career, she mentored and provided consulting services to anyone who requested it, always without charge because she believed that she needed to help spread the good works of hospice. She is still considered to be a local, regional, and national expert and speaker regarding hospice and palliative care. Even now she is embarking on a ‘tour’ to promote the importance of keeping high quality healthcare local.
She believes in community involvement because a strong community furthers better health and health decisions. She has been involved with Zonta (past president), Rotary (1st woman president in the region), Kiwanis, mentoring high school students by providing after-school employment to help develop skills for future success, and continues to be a speaker at the Mining Journal Senior Health Expo and more. She has encouraged her staff to also become active in the community and many have taken leadership roles from everything from service clubs to state trade organizations. Commitment to caring has never faded; in fact, just recently, she allowed a young woman experiencing recovery from a serious health issue to stay in her home for several months while she was in Florida, so the woman could get on her feet.
As stated earlier, her and her agency’s involvement in the community and region is extensive and some mentioned earlier, and I would like to add a few more:
- In 1980 her agency became the first proprietary Medicare Certified Home Health Agency in Region V ( a 6-state area) of the Health Care Finance Admin
- Developed Home Health and Hospice Pathways that have been incorporated into an international software company’s product
- She continues as a national and local speaker and consultant
Because of all of the involvements, business development, extraordinary education and mentoring activities, she and her business have received many awards, too numerous to mention here.
But, in closing, she has demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in building her business from the bottom up and mentoring women and girls all along the way (and still does) to reach their leadership potential.
How fortunate to have this trailblazer, this passionate, caring woman in our community from which it has received immeasurable benefits from her vision. She has inspired and mentored so many. I’m proud to introduce you to the 2019 Evergreen Award Recipient, Cynthia Nyquist!