A Generous Donation: Mary Alice & Neil Hansen

Mary Alice Hansen had passion – passion for her family, for water, for fishing, and for helping others. Whether she was baking for her family or volunteering her time with hospice patients, Mary Alice’s generosity knew no bounds. 

That giving nature continues to shine today, thanks in part to Mary Alice’s husband, Neil, and her 10 children. 

When Neil recently moved into a retirement home, he began to wonder what to do with the contents of his and Mary Alice’s home for the last 66 years.

“I said, ‘give it to hospice’,” Neil recalls, noting the impact EveryStep Hospice had on the family during Mary Alice’s last hours. “We wanted it to go somewhere that it would do some good.” 

After a bit of homework, Marcie Christensen, Neil and Mary Alice’s daughter, discovered the family could donate the items to the EveryStep Giving Tree thrift store in Urbandale.  

Open since 2010, EveryStep Giving Tree helps carry out the organization’s mission by directing all proceeds from thrift store sales toward the non-profit programs and services that benefit EveryStep’s patients and clients. 

“It wasn’t a hard decision,” Neil notes. “She would agree with everything we’re doing.” 

The Hansen family’s relationship with EveryStep was a whirlwind. While Mary Alice had suffered from Alzheimer’s, she was in good spirits and health until the end of May 2018 when she was rushed to the hospital with low oxygen levels.  

At the hospital, the family was informed that she had several blood clots in her lungs. The family discussed their options, ultimately deciding to bring Mary Alice home and seek hospice care from EveryStep.

Back at their home, Mary Alice continued on with her day as usual, sitting in her recliner and chatting with her family, while her EveryStep Hospice team nurse Aubrey Burkett prepped her bedroom and made her comfortable.

“It was a shock to the family,” Neil recalls. “She didn’t act like she was sick. When hospice came that day, they just blended right in. They took care of everything for Mary Alice and took care of our emotional needs.”

The following night, just 37 short hours after her trip to the hospital, Mary Alice passed away surrounded by her family. EveryStep nurse Sue Stoll stayed with the family for several hours after Mary Alice’s passing, making arrangements for the funeral home, answering questions, and providing a compassionate shoulder to lean on. 

“It was a big thing; she took care of us,” Marcie remembers. “They won our hearts. We were overtired, shell-shocked, and they didn’t come in clinically or solemn or forlorn. When it was time for dad to have help, we knew who to call.”

And so in late summer, Neil began seeing the same EveryStep nurses who made such an impact on his family at the time of Mary Alice’s death.  In December, he began preparing to move into a retirement home, and he knew he had to keep Mary Alice’s generosity front-and-center.

“We’re carrying out mom’s wishes,” Marcie said. “This is a way to continue mom’s legacy, to honor mom. We’re aware that others facing the same health issues mom and dad have don’t have the same support. We wanted to donate things so that others can have the same care mom did.”