By Denise Smith, Gentle Shepherd Hospice Services Representative

I came to Gentle Shepherd Hospice at a time in my nursing home marketing career when I felt like I seriously needed to make a change. There were many days I cried on the way to work. One such morning, I forced myself to attend a Senior Networking meeting in Charlottesville. Little did I know that God had other plans for me, starting that very day!

I was barely holding it together when a woman I had met only once, June Harvey McNamara, sat down beside me. Noticing my state, she asked if I was okay. I completely broke down and stated that I was not. Why I was telling this total stranger about my feelings was beyond me.  I figured I must have totally lost it and that she would be thinking “this chick is nuts!”

Trying to salvage the moment, I went ahead and shared what was going on with my career. Much to my surprise, she knew about a job I might be interested in! In the parking lot after the meeting, June told me about Gentle Shepherd. To be honest, I thought that there is no way the place she described could be “for real.” There couldn’t possibly be a company where patients are consistently treated with such dignity and respect. Or that I might actually have the opportunity to work with a Christian-owned faith-based company. By this time, I was beginning to think that June just might be nuts!

Well, one thing led to another and the Eckenroths took a chance on me. For the first month, I still cried at work… deeply moved by the love displayed by every single employee. I am in awe of them as they strive to be the hands and feet of Christ by demonstrating true love, care and compassion for patients in their last days. It’s so beautiful!

God has blessed me beyond measure to be working alongside each member of the Gentle Shepherd team. This verse reminds me of what they do every day, living out their faith in deeds.  Each of them is doing their part to make Gentle Shepherd the best hospice available.

“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”    (1 John 3:18)

Thank you Don and Kim for allowing me to do something I can be proud of, for a company I can promote and owners I can praise!


Members of the Gentle Shepherd team often write and share stories, devotionals, testimonials and words of faith and encouragement with the staff. We thought you might appreciate them as much as we do, so we created a regular feature in our blog called “In Our Words.” We hope they touch your heart too.