In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are honoring the pioneering women of UpliftedCare. Meet UpliftedCare Cofounders Sadye Stoltenberg and Theresa Diepeveen. Sadye and Theresa originally met at Faith Reformed Church in Kankakee where they became close friends. Little did they know at that time, they both had very similar missions in mind, but it was a subject that wasn’t talked about for quite some time.

Sadye’s daughter and her husband Lawrence, an oncologist, began researching hospice care in 1979, very soon after it made its first appearance in the United States. After years of research, they opened their first hospice in Moline, IL in 1981. The idea of hospice care greatly intrigued Sadye, a nurse, who earned her Master’s degree at age 65.

Across the world in Holland, Theresa was able to be present as her father-in-law died comfortably in his own home. She came back to the states wanting to offer that care, dignity and compassion to others during their final days.

Soon, an opportunity presented itself to both women. A 35-year-old woman in their church was diagnosed with incurable cancer and wanted to die at home with her family. From there, the concept of UpliftedCare was formed. A group of people from church and some of the Bandstra’s neighbors set up home care for her and she was able to live out her final days peacefully in her own home. Sadye and Theresa stayed very active in hospice and wore many hats during that time. “Sadye was the director, volunteer coordinator, nurse and secretary and I assisted her with all of it,” Theresa explained what life was like in the early days. “We attended many workshops and just kept trying to learn all we could.”

Both local hospitals were interested in the concept, so they were very receptive when Sadye and Theresa approached them about hospice care. A committee was formed, publicity was put in the paper, the first group of volunteers stepped forward. Hospice of Kankakee Valley was founded. As the organization has grown, we are now UpliftedCare which represents the many diversified services we offer, and the hope to uplift the lives of everyone we serve.

“My mother and Theresa were really pioneers in the healthcare world for the 20th century,” said Sadye’s daughter. “Once you are involved in hospice, it carries through your life and is always in your heart. My mom was really proud of Hospice of Kankakee Valley and really considered it one of her greatest accomplishments.” Theresa says the impact of this movement cannot be summed up into one thought. “You get so much more out of it than what you put in,” she remarked. “I am so thankful that I was able to have this experience, meeting so many wonderful people who trusted us to care for their loved ones.”

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we wish to honor Sadye and Theresa and all those who have helped lead our organization throughout the past 40 years.