Is our heart not like an instrument, that when it quivers, it sets another to compassionate response? From the moment I first stepped into the rehearsal space of my local Threshold Choir, I have seen what Love can do.
The work of this choir offers repeated opportunities to see the best in ourselves and others. It shows how we are all connected by our birthright to sing, to offer our song voices as a salve or joy. It breaks down the walls between us and the suffering patients and families in their rooms. Our offering is simply a conduit for love to flow through us in that singing moment.
I believe this work stems from Heart's wisdom. Heart's genius, quite frankly! Singing to our loved ones, to our community, creates a ripple effect — the Threshold Choir is an important vehicle for something much greater than the sum of its members. Many of us are observing the growing number of people responding to what we do and want to be a part of it. Our chapters are growing more quickly and are already serving a wide variety of groups in need of comforting music. We focus on creating sacred spaces of loving care for our singers; then we're taking that out to our towns and cities. Heart at work again.
As a co-director of the Philadelphia Threshold Singers, I have been fortunate to learn from and work alongside Threshold Choir veteran Doris Mogen. I am also grateful and honored to serve on the Board. My educational background is primarily in psychology and mindfulness training, with a bit of art and a lot of music thrown in. I have always loved making music with others! My work experience is in communications and human resources, and if I reflect, my work has long had a theme of connecting people to one another. I bring to my service a collaborative style and the intention to create a safe space within which we set a mindful attention to each other and our work. As the choir grows, we need to build a strong support structure that is rooted in our essential values and mission — one that will sustain the many changes that are inevitable in a volunteer organization with heart at its core.
When a hospice colleague sent me a flyer in 2014 for a new Threshold Choir starting in the Washington, DC area, he wrote, “This is surely a no-brainer for you!” He was right -- it brought together my love of singing with my longtime passion for compassionate end-of-life care. I have loved being a part of the Threshold Singers of Washington, DC, both as a bedside singer and as the Music Director. I knew I would love the singing, but I hadn’t counted on how important the rehearsals would become for building beautiful community and sacred space together. I look forward to being part of a Threshold Choir in Colorado, once we land in our permanent home.
I felt a call to hospice nursing while I was still in nursing school, and have spent the past three decades focused on end-of-life care. My work trajectory has taken me from the bedside of hospice and palliative care patients to supporting the wellbeing of caregivers, and now into the larger community to further open our cultural conversation about end of life. I serve as faculty for the International Nurse Coaching Association, and also for the Conscious Dying Institute's end-of-life coach and doula programs. Leading workshops & retreats on the transformational possibilities of end-of-life work is one of my passions. Part of that work involves tracking innovative models for end-of-life care that are emerging throughout our culture – some are new, and others come out of human wisdom traditions, reimagined for the time we’re in. I see Threshold Choirs as part of that reimagining.
I’m honored to be asked to serve on the TCI Board, and look forward to seeing how I might best contribute. We are clearly in a time of growth and transition for the organization, balancing the core mission of ‘kindness made audible’ and ‘one choir, many voices.’ I hope to honor those values and do my small part to carry this sacred work forward.
It is my distinct honor and delight to be able to introduce myself as a member of the Threshold Choir Board of Directors. Although I am quite new to the Threshold Choir, I am well acquainted with the joy of singing, the challenge and reward of non-profit leadership, and the wonder of accompanying people in the last stage of their life's journey. I have a passion for all that the Threshold Choir is and is yet to be, and I am excited to bring my energies and skills into the next stage of the Threshold Choir adventure.
I recently retired from a career in non-profit management and public service, advocating for children and families, strengthening the consumer voice in public policy and system change, and promoting justice for children and families of color and other marginalized populations. During the past ten years, it was my privilege to work with an inspiring group of parents to successfully navigate the child welfare system. Together we created a program of peer mentoring for parents entering that system, providing them with information, support, and hope. Our efforts were rewarded when the Washington State Legislature enacted this program into law and provided the funding to sustain it. Securing this funding and passing the torch of leadership to one of the program's remarkable parents was a thrilling way to begin my retirement.
Singing has been a lifelong interest, and I currently sing in our church choir and in a community choir. While contemplating my retirement last fall, I was looking for an opportunity to bring together my interest in hospice and my love of singing. While I was out running one Sunday morning, I heard an NPR interview with Kate Munger. As soon as I got back to the house I looked online, discovered the Seattle Threshold Singers, and immediately contacted them. Now I am not only an active bedside singer with the Seattle Threshold Singers, but I also have the amazing privilege of working on this Board. I am blessed by these opportunities and will bring all that I can into shaping with you the future of this exceptional organization.
I have sung as long as I can remember.
As a little boy, our family did not have a TV, but we had a piano; and I had a mother who wrote small beautiful songs. I was wedged between two brothers. I imagine to keep herself sane with three boys (only 4 ½ years apart in age!), each evening after dinner we “had” to gather around her piano bench and sing for 30 minutes. We sang in parts from the beginning, mom teaching as well as accompanying us. Hymns, folk songs, sea chanties, Stephen Foster, ballads, and even show tunes. In high school I was not in choir because at that class hour of each day I had a clarinet stuck in my mouth. But I have sung in choirs in college and in church ever since.
I was a family physician in a very small rural town for almost 40 years. If I had a special focus, it was improving care at the end of life, and so I have also been involved in hospice since 1980; and have taught pre-medical and medical students about the importance of comfort and respect, especially for the terminally ill. Yes, I sang at a number of patient’s funerals over the years.
Since retirement I have been the National Medical Director for Compassion and Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit that affirms life and accepts the inevitability of death, embraces expanded options for compassionate dying, and empowers everyone to choose end-of-life care that reflects their values, priorities, and beliefs.
My wife, Lynn, a retired nurse, and I have been members of the Heart of the Valley Threshold Singers (Corvallis, OR) for several years. Singing at bedside has brought us great joy and allows me to continue two great passions in life: singing and caring for the dying.
I'm honored to join Threshold Choir's Board of Directors and bring my passion for compassionate end-of-life care and music to the organization. I believe in the power of singing and music to bring people together and bring peace to individuals at every phase of their lives. For me, music represents an acceptance of life as it is, in all of its complexities and joys. When I was introduced to Threshold Choir, I knew that I had found like-minded people and an organization with a mission closely aligned with my own values.
I’m a Senior Communications Associate at Compassion & Choices, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping everyone realize an end-of-life journey based on their values and priorities. In this role, I amplify the end-of-life planning and education aspects of the organization's work. I have expertise in nonprofit leadership and social impact strategy, skills I hope to bring to Threshold Choir.
I’m eager to get further involved with Threshold Choir and learn from and grow with the organization.
Karen Hendrickson is a professional coach in Life, Death, Grief, and all the messy in-between. With over 35 years as a corporate business leader and human resources professional, Karen has extensive training and expertise in communications, coaching, relationship management, and conflict resolution. With training and experience in emotional intelligence, public speaking, training and facilitation of large and small groups, Karen is well versed in the human dynamic, and what it takes to support others through change, challenges and difficult times.
Karen is Co-Founder of The Death Doula Network of BC and is passionate about leading heart centred death education to support others in exploring and accepting their mortality. Her work allows others to not only complete meaningful end of life planning, but also inspires them to live and love more fully right now.
As a Death Doula and a Licensed Willow End of Life Educator, Karen is an accredited Member of the End of Life Doula Association of Canada, The National End of Life Doula Alliance, and The Death Doula Ontario Network. Karen has met the NEDA proficiency requirements and is committed to a regulated and monitored scope of practise for the Death Doula Profession.
Karen has received certification as a Grief & Loss Support Group Facilitator, and from the Living with Loss Society. Karen has experience as a hospice volunteer, and a UBC Health Student Mentor, and has participated in SFU’s End of Life Studies program. She is committed to ongoing learning and development in her field.
Karen’s prior knowledge and experiences include significant training and education from Queen’s University, Banff Centre for Leadership, UBC and SFU’s schools of business. including specific training and experience in collective bargaining negotiations, grievance and conflict resolution and human relations.
You will always hear Karen say: