Imagine someone you love is very sick and needs a comfortable space to feel cared for and manage his or her pain at the end of life.

Hospice care helps loved ones when treatment can no longer cure or control a disease. An interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers work to provide medical, emotional, and spiritual support, in a private home setting, nursing home, or an inpatient hospice unit. Typically, the person who is ill enters hospice care when he or she is expected to live six months or less.

Lions in Illinois recognize the importance of compassionate care and comfort to a family member at the end of life and the need to help families feel emotionally prepared for the death of a loved one. Unfortunately, at the Lightways Hospice and Serious Illness Care in Joliet, many families were on a waiting list for rooms.

Eileen Gutierrez, senior director of Development and Communications at Lightways, said the inpatient hospice facility decided to expand and renovate their care facility from 16 rooms to 20 rooms because they wanted to serve their community and create more family-focused areas. The US$8.5 million renovation project started after the state of Illinois approved legislation to increase the size of inpatient hospice facilities in 2018.

After years of supporting the facility with donated items such as alarm clocks, Lions of District 1-BK in Illinois decided to expand their support with 15 Lions clubs raising more than US$10,000. To magnify their impact, the Lions turned to Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) for additional support. LCIF awarded a Matching grant of US$10,000, making the Lions of District 1-BK total contribution to the project more than US$20,000.

“Where there is a need, there is a Lion, and we all banded together to help serve our community,” said Past District Governor John Joseph Honiotes, the grant administrator. “Service comes in many ways and helping someone have peaceful and loving last moments is a true act of unselfish service to a fellow man.”

According to Honiotes, Lightways originally planned to use the donation to furnish one new room with a bed, sofa, and a reclining chair, but they quickly realized the grant funds also supported furnishings for the entire room, including tables, mirrors, curtains, and bath linens.

“For a person in hospice, it’s an emotional time for the family, and we wanted to help make their stay as comfortable as possible,” he said.

For Gutierrez, the comfort of the patient and family members is the goal of the facility. In each room, windows and French doors open to a patio that allow a patient to experience fresh air and the outdoors. The facility includes a 24-hour dining room, business room for families, and living room/common area.

“We are there for those in need, and we light the way with unwavering guidance and support,” Gutierrez said.

The renovation project was finished in the summer of 2021, and the 20 bed-unit opened that Fall.

“Community support means the world to us at Lightways,” Gutierrez said.  Patient Room 10, now named after Lions in Illinois and LCIF, will serve hundreds of families throughout the community, where staff members will provide compassionate care with less pain and more joy.

“As fate would have it, a Lion from Crest Hill, Illinois, was the first to occupy the room,” Honiotes said. “We’re proud to serve our community—and our Lions—in every stage of life.”

The Lions clubs that supported the project include Bolingbrook, Braidwood, Channahon, Crest Hill, Crete, Frankfort, Joliet Noon, Lemont, Lockport, Minooka, Mokena, Morris, New Lenox, Plainfield, and Shorewood in District 1-BK Illinois.

To learn more about LCIF’s Matching grants, visit