Ogeechee Area Hospice received a substantial donation during its 25th anniversary celebration Thursday evening that already has brought marked changes to the organization.
“We are debt free now,” said Tinker Lanier, Ogeechee Area Hospice manager of Donor Relations. “The donation helped us pay off our mortgage and, as a non-profit, those (monthly payments) going forward can go towards our patients.”
Ted Tucker, on behalf of the Tucker Family, presented a check for $800,000 to Ogeechee Area Hospice in honor of his parents, Susie Scott Tucker and Eddie Frank Tucker. Ted Tucker and his brother James, who was also in attendance of the event, are the surviving children of 11 from the marriage of the Scott and Tucker union.
Tucker has lived in California for the last 45 years and calls San Francisco home, but he and his siblings grew up in the Leefield community of eastern Bulloch County.
“Our roots are here,” he said. “Nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews live here. Our family wanted to give back to a community that supported us in so many ways.”
Tucker said his family has seen first-hand the work that Ogeechee Area Hospice does for the community, as well as with Tucker family members.
“Through our most difficult and challenging times, you met our needs,” he said. “We saw the care you give, and we want to thank you for the work that you do. We hope this gift will help you continue doing that good work.”
Tracy Joiner, owner of Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory in Statesboro, Joiner-Anderson Screven Chapel and Bulloch Memorial Gardens along with owners Mark Anderson, Bland Mathews and Phil Graham, introduced his great uncles Ted and James.
“My grandmother, Lucille Joiner, was the oldest of the 11, and my great uncle, Ted Tucker, the youngest,” Joiner said.
“We grew up in the Leefield community,” Ted Tucker said. “Our ma and daddy were sharecroppers. We were low on the socio-economic spectrum – it means you have no money.
“Raising a family of 11 kids is challenging. But, all 11 children became successful adults.”
A family’s success
Tucker attributed that success to a number of influences. He said, “We were raised in a Christian household. We went to church at least three times a week, twice on Sunday and prayer meeting during the week.
“Our parents valued education,” Tucker continued. “Schooling was a priority. Even with all the chores necessary on a farm, we never missed a day of school because of chores.
“And, because of community. We lived in a community that supported one another – neighbors, family, friends, the school system, our church.”
Tucker even said that a neighbor co-signed an educational loan for him to attend college.
Tinker Lanier said that in addition to paying off the mortgage, some of the money will be used for much-needed upkeep of a 15-year-old building. She said they are most excited about the opportunity to continue taking care of their patients, however. “Being a non-profit, this will help us tremendously towards our patient care. We handle the cost of many indigent care cases. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you can’t pay, we cover.”
Nancy Bryant, executive director and founder of Hospice, spoke about the 25th anniversary celebration and said that Ogeechee Area Hospice belongs to the community.
“Twenty-five years ago, we were a very small organization,” Bryant said. “We knew there had to be a better way for end-of-life care. We were established because we love this community. We knew there was a vulnerable population that needed different and unique care. This presentation will keep us moving into the future.”
Jean Bartels, Board president for Ogeechee Area Hospice, welcomed the donation and said, “Ogeechee Area Hospice came from and is part of and is representative of this wonderful community in which we live.”
Another Board member, Trish Tootle who is a past-president of the board, addressed the crowd.
“I thought I knew all about hospice, the finances and building committee and inner workings,” she said. “I thought I knew all about it until hospice came into my house to take care of my husband and my daddy, my aunt and my uncle.
“My grandmother used to say, ‘God always knows what you need and who to send it by,’” Tootle said. “Thank you, Ted Tucker, for this donation for Ogeechee Area Hospice.”
‘Honored to have the opportunity’
After the presentation, Tucker added that he was honored to have the opportunity to make the donation. “Working for a company that enabled me to be successful is the reason I could do this.”
With a mischievous smile, he said, “I told my financial advisor that I wanted my very last check to bounce.”
Explaining, Tucker said that in a consult with his advisor, he asked him to figure what he needed to live and then he wanted to give the rest away.
“I’m making gifts to other organizations in San Francisco, but this is the major gift, to honor my parents. Hospice is a valuable resource and it needs to hang around. Hopefully, I will live a long time and see this organization continue to thrive.”
Ogeechee Area Hospice plans to unveil a plaque for Susie Scott Tucker and Eddie Frank Tucker on Saturday at 1 p.m. on the facility’s grounds and the public is invited to attend.