Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65. With diminishing geriatric training nationwide, the healthcare system and social services are unprepared to care for this rapidly growing population during their final phase of life. Inspired by a dream of a community that comforts individuals at end-of-life, Abode Contemplative Care for the Dying was established as a nonprofit, non-medical home that provides loving, round-the-clock care for guests.
Our partner Robert L. Soza, Jr. and his wife, Roxanna, first became involved with Abode when their son constructed a meditation labyrinth in the home’s outdoor garden as part of an Eagle Scout project. Following the death of a close loved one, Robert and Roxanna’s relationship with Abode strengthened, leading them to serve in an increased capacity. Last year, they joined Abode’s Board of Directors, with Robert serving as President.
“It takes a visit to Abode to fully feel and understand the important work that the staff is doing – not just for the guests, but for all of San Antonio,” Robert said. “There is a need in this city for places like Abode, especially for our large military and Hispanic populations. I am proud to witness firsthand how Abode makes such a positive impact on our underserved communities.”
“It takes a visit to Abode to fully feel and understand the important work that the staff is doing – not just for the guests, but for all of San Antonio.”
Across the nation, this desire to return to a time of caring for people at end-of-life has spread as community-supported homes like Abode offer connection, contemplative support, and loving care for those who can no longer remain in their own homes during the last months, weeks, or days of life. The 26 homes that have been built and the 30 homes in the planning stages comprise the Omega Home Network, a national membership organization that promotes the development and expansion of community homes for dying people. Since 2012, the Omega Home Network gathers members for an annual conference dedicated to sharing information about developing and operating homes, building compassion, fundraising, and other related topics.
This year, Abode will host the Omega Home Network National Conference on June 24-26, 2019, at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter. Robert is among several expert speakers—he will share his experience with Abode and how end-of-life homes can benefit from learning about policies and procedures as well as board selection and management. In addition, the conference will feature keynote speaker Frank Ostaseski, author of “The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” Frank is the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project.
In tune with this year’s theme, “Can You Hear the Flowers? Planting the Seeds of Awareness,” the conference will explore how homes can improve the way they tell their own stories for use in marketing and fundraising—so that all communities develop a deep appreciation for this special and valuable work.
On Wednesday, June 26, Robert will present two breakout sessions – “Why Your Policies & Procedures Matter” and “Legal and Practical Aspects of Board Selection and Management” – at 9 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., respectively. During the first session, Robert will use Abode as a model to demonstrate how to write the essential policies and procedures that end-of-life homes require. The second session—covering best practices involving the use of policies, procedures, and training as well as insurance coverage to minimize potential board liability—will include the topic of diverse skill sets, the use of accounting and tax professionals, and public disclosure requirements. Each of these is essential when seeking grants or funding from foundations.
To learn more about the conference, its theme and to register, visit the Abode conference page.
Robert L. Soza, Jr. is a partner in Jackson Walker’s San Antonio office. His practice focuses on environmental disputes, personal injury claims, property damage claims, and civil enforcement actions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Outside of his practice, Robert devotes time to promoting and working on pro bono and public interest projects in Bexar County. In addition to serving as president of the Board of Directors for Abode, Robert volunteers with the San Antonio Bar Association’s Community Justice Program and Boy Scouts of America Troop 285.