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Volunteer gives back to Adventist St. Thomas Hospice

Downers Grove resident Dawn Ceren, pictured with her son, Dave Foley, is a former Adventist St. Thomas Hospice patient who now volunteers for the organization.


Hinsdale – Prior to January 2009, Dawn Ceren could not have imagined how important hospice would become for her. It was during that month that her 48-year-old husband took his own life. In her pain and confusion, and with enormous concerns about her young son, the Downers Grove resident turned to Adventist St. Thomas Hospice for guidance and support. She found it.


“Hospice was always there for me and for my son,” Ceren said. “There is real acceptance. No one is judgmental. When I spoke to friends or acquaintances after my husband died, it seemed everyone had their own war story to tell, rather than let me talk. At hospice, you can tell your own story and get it out without interruption.”


Ceren was so grateful for the support she received from Adventist St. Thomas Hospice that she began volunteering there in 2010. She helps out in the office out of gratitude for the services she has received.


Ceren attended grief support groups and she saw a grief counselor referred by the hospice. Ceren’s son, Dave Foley, now 11 and in sixth grade at Indian Trail School in Downers Grove, attended a support group called Tommy’s Kids. The group is for children who have experienced the loss of someone significant through death. He also attended the program’s bereavement summer day camp and hopes to volunteer at the camp when he’s old enough.


“Through Tommy’s Kids, Dave met other children who experienced the pain of losing a parent,” Ceren said. “He can talk to them. He finds companionship.”


Ceren and her son have experienced still more loss. Ceren’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007. Her parents, who were living in Tennessee, moved in with her in 2009. Her mother died at age 72 in October 2010, after receiving services from Adventist St. Thomas Hospice.


“We had home care; they helped her with her medications, and they helped our whole family,” Ceren said.


In addition to volunteering at Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, Ceren volunteers for her school district, where she also works as a secretary on a substitute basis. Her father, 81, still lives with her. They are helped by her sister in Westmont.


Ceren and her son have remained involved in support groups at hospice, mainly through family night once a month.


“There is always a smile and a hug; there is warmth,” Ceren said. “Now I see new families coming in. But I want to see more fathers. They need the help, too. Men tend to hold in their feelings. If more fathers took advantage of the program, it would help to break that cycle.”


Adventist St. Thomas Hospice offers supportive, holistic care to patients and their families in DuPage, western Cook, eastern Kane, and northern Will counties. For information, call (630) 856-6990.



Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit


Media contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health,; 630-856-2354