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Hospice Volunteer Makes Her Mark In Her Hometown

In July 2020, a mural entitled “Education Empowers”, was unveiled on the flood wall in Newport, Kentucky. Designed by Gina Erardi, a Northern Kentucky University graduate, the mural is a tribute to the Southgate Street School, the first all-Black school in Campbell County that operated from after the Civil War to the 1950s. Included in the design is a portrait of a Black woman in a graduation cap and gown. She is Virinda Garland Doddy, a former Bluegrass Care Navigators hospice volunteer.

Virinda Garland Doddy grew up in Newport. She attended Southgate Street School for first grade before transferring to an elementary school which was integrated. After graduating from high school, she attended Northern Kentucky University and was the first Black person to receive a degree in the Human Services program. She received a Bachelor’s in Social Work and went on to get her Master’s in Theology.

Her calling to end-of-life care began in 1952 when she was just five years old. She would visit patients in their home with her mother, Johnnie Nelson Dean. In 1969, she joined a group called the Interdenominational Prayer Band. “That is where my hospice experience began. Going to the nursing homes and hospitals and sitting with the patients who were dying. Even before it was called hospice,” said Virinda.

Over the years, Virinda has continued to visit patients and families. She said, “There were many days when I started having children, my children went with us. I had to take them with me. They sat in the lobby and thank God I had some good kids!”

In 2010, Virinda started volunteering for Bluegrass Care Navigators. "I visit with the patients and let them share with me how they feel and what they were thinking. I listen to what they were saying.”

Virinda’s visits with the patients are currently on hold because of the pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped her. “I still talk to people. People often call me for prayer," said Virinda.

Thank you, Virinda, for your care spirit and dedication as a hospice volunteer!

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