This month's Hometown Hero award goes to Deborah Darby for her long-term efforts in bringing awareness of the need for end-of-life planning. Deb has been an advocate for seniors and for hospice in our community along with being a volunteer for several years with various organizations to help our seniors with life-changing issues. Deb stated, "Hospice is the part of the healthcare system that gets it right." She is committed to helping anyone facing end-of-life decisions and planning. When asked why she does the work with death and dying, Deb's answer was, "Death was part of my life early. I lost numerous friends within 10 years after high school for various reasons and it was a real eye opener." Deb knew even then that talking about death was critical to overcoming fears and facing the fact that all of us, young or old, will eventually die. That's how she began her journey as an advocate and voice for people of all ages facing end-of-life issues. Deborah volunteers for a group called Compassion & Choices, which supports Death with Dignity, serving as president of the Sedona chapter for eight years.
Deb has a blog online at letsdiscussdeath.blogspot.com where she has posted several articles on the subject of death and dying. One of Deb's most read articles is "It Won't Kill You to Talk About Death." Deb says, "After many years of advocacy and activism, we are finally seeing more and more people who have become willing to talk about death. One of my personal missions is to make sure people prepare their advance directives, putting their end-of-life wishes in writing, for example completing the '5 Wishes' document."
Deb has lived in the Verde Valley for more than two decades and loves the area. About 22 years ago while living in Texas, she visited the Verde Valley and fell in love with Cottonwood. She says she knew instantly that Cottonwood would be her home forever!
Deb is currently employed by Verde Valley Manor, an Independent Living Apartment complex for low-income seniors where she serves as resource coordinator. In addition, she also has her own business, WordCraft, where she a freelance writer specializing in business copywriting and public relations. Deb is no stranger to researching and writing news/feature articles on topics ranging from business to healthcare concerns. In her work she often does brochures and ads to raise awareness for clients and for worthy charitable causes. In the past she has worked in many areas in the Verde Valley including the Yavapai College as well the hospital when it was still named Marcus J. Lawrence Hospital. Deb told me that she plans on working for about another 10 years and then she plans to move into the Verde Valley Manor for her retirement.
I asked Deb to describe what the beauty of death and dying means to her. Deb's response was, "At the bedside, I've witnessed many people accept that this life is over and literally surrender to the next life. I want to empower people to be independent and proactive about taking care of their end-of-life needs, which includes living every moment to the best of their ability." I was curious to know what would be the one thing she would like people to know about her, and her response was, "The Verde Valley is the Love of my Life."
I lastly asked what her vision is for our community. The response was "...that death becomes dinner-table conversation. We plan for babies being born, weddings and anniversaries but we don't plan for death. We can't plan until we start talking about it."
Please join me in congratulating Deborah Darby on her commitment to our seniors and helping our community to be more proactive about making end-of-life decisions, and for the many wonderful things she does in the Verde Valley!
For more information regarding Deb's services, please contact her at email@example.com.