Westlake hospice receives rocking chairs to comfort families in need

The Eleonore Rocks Foundation donates custom-built rocking chairs to honor the memory of their daughter and provide a positive impact on the lives of sick children and their families.

A very special event was held in the Great Room of Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake recently. It was not just the dedication of 10 custom-built rocking chairs. It was also a family reunion, a celebration of life and love, and a way for a hospice family to say thank you. The rocking chairs were made especially for Hospice of the Western Reserve and its affiliate, Hospice of Medina County, so that babies and young children can be comforted, cuddled and rocked.  

The story behind this generous donation from the Strongsville-based Eleonore Rocks Foundation is truly inspiring. In November 2009, Rochelle and Dave Friedrich were expecting their third child. Sadly, Eleonore died only five days after she was born. In the family's own words: “While Eleonore was only with us for a short time, she left quite an impression and reminded us just how precious life is. Eleonore Grace rocked our lives in a way that words cannot fully express. We established this foundation to honor Eleonore's memory and to support other families enduring similar heartaches.” 

Dave Friedrich poured his energy into starting the Eleonore Rocks Foundation. A fierce athlete who completed five Ironman competitions, he enlisted the help of many other athletes. Working together, they helped the Foundation raise more than $450,000 to construct and donate more than 600 custom-built Amish rocking chairs to neonatal and pediatric intensive care units throughout the country.   

Tragically, Dave developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. He and his family received care and comfort from Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Westlake Home Care Team. Dave especially enjoyed music therapy provided by the music therapist on his hospice care team. He spent his last days at Ames Family Hospice House in February 2016 surrounded by his loving family. He was only 45 years old. Soon thereafter, Rochelle Friedrich told the hospice team members she wanted to donate rocking chairs to Hospice of the Western Reserve. Rochelle’s father, Bob Martin, has taken on some of Dave’s work at the Foundation, so he worked closely with the nonprofit agency as the chairs were constructed.

The rocking chairs were delivered this summer. There are four for Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake, four for David Simpson Hospice House in Cleveland and two for the HMC Hospice of Medina County Care Center.

Typically, the Foundation donates rocking chairs to hospitals that care for infants. However, this donation was made to Hospice of the Western Reserve in thanks for the hours, smiles and normalcy that the team members brought to Dave, his family and his friends. It was also made in recognition of the palliative and hospice care provided to seriously ill infants and young children by the agency’s Pediatric Team. 

The chairs were constructed by Amish craftsmen in the Fredericksberg/Kidron area. “The workmanship is second to none, and the design perfectly complements the decor of the hospice houses,” said Bob Phillips-Plona, Director of Residential Care. “They are exceptionally comfortable, with wide arm rests that are scaled perfectly for rocking a baby. They are a very welcome addition to each of our in-patient care units.”

Bonnie Robbins

Bonnie Robbins is Foundation Relations Manager at Hospice of the Western Reserve

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Volume 8, Issue 19, Posted 9:06 AM, 10.04.2016