(1941 - )
Carol Eynon was born in Omaha, Nebraska and spent her formative years in Des Moines, Iowa, and Columbus, Indiana.
In about 1979 Carol and her husband, Curt, relocated to the Evergreen area with the corporate headquarters of the Johns-Manville Corporation.
She began by volunteering at the Hiwan Homestead, as a docent at the Evergreen library, and at a hospice in Denver that was part of a nursing home (now Hospice of St. John).
Carol's experience with having her father die alone in a hospital room while family was in a nearby waiting room had caused her to be partial to the hospice movement pioneered in the 1960s that enabled terminally-ill patients to die at home with dignity.
In the late 1970s the federal government mandated (without funding) that states needed to provide these services.
When a fellow volunteer at the Hiwan Homestead contracted a terminal illness, there was much discussion about wishing there could be a hospice here in Evergreen to help her. An article about Carol in the Canyon Courier put out word that she wanted to start a hospice in Evergreen, and she received 50 phone calls in response. The initial meeting at Evergreen Lutheran Church hosted a speaker from the Boulder hospice about how to start a one, and by the time she left, the group of 50 had an outline of staff and board. "The few positions not filled were filled in short order," Carol said. "We were up and running in four months. It all came together very quickly."
Within a year of having moved to Evergreen, Carol had begun Mt. Evans Hospice to provide compassionate and palliative care for those facing end-of-life issues. It is thought to have been the third hospice to be set up within the State of Colorado (Boulder and Hospice of St John being the predecessors). By 1981 it was one of 14. Within 5 years, the number had grown to 32. Carol served as Membership Director for the Colorado organization of hospices and met people equally as excited all over the state."
Operating a hospice meant needing occupational therapists, physical therapists, registered nurses, home health aids, and homemakers. They began with a $20,000 budget.
Carol set up an office in the lower level of her home off North Turkey Creek, and all served as volunteers without any pay for the first two years. Many of the early volunteers were friends of Carol's, and those who came into the fold soon became her friends for life. The group operated out of her home for the first couple of years.
Eager to share credit with all who played a part in getting the effort up and running, Carol was the first executive director, and Dr. Fred Buchwald was the first medical director. The organaization cared for 15 individuals during the first year.
Unlike most hospices, which are an outgrowth of home health care, Mt. Evans began solely as a hospice and later added home health care. "Within a couple of years, we started home health care when one family was desperate," Carol said.
Pat Kennedy was a founding member, as was Mary Craig, who was very active in getting it started, served as Director of Volunteers and Educational Director and worked on the courses necessary for accreditation. Trish Baker headed up nurses, and Twila Paul was the volunteer who headed up public relations. Carol focused on writing the regulations for the first two years. "Everything was in place from the beginning," Carol said with pride.
Explaining the intent of the organization was a challenge. "Getting word out was awkward," she remembered. Carol found herself giving presentations to every civic organization and physician in Evergreen and sometimes venturing into Denver to spread the word. "We never had any trouble getting publicity or affiliations."
It was a story of miracles. Oftentimes the stories were linked to families who'd experienced the loss of a loved one and developed an appreciation for the difficulty of caring for someone terminally ill. Early on, one family said they were too elderly to give their energy but donated $5,000 in the form of a matching donation. Another was Eleanor Miller, who showed up to volunteer the very day she moved into town in the early 1980s and drove to Evergreen once each week from Buffalo Creek until she moved to Arizona about 20 years later. "Every week some small miracles would happen," said Carol.
Funding to provide these services came largely from private donations and fundraising. They started a foot race (5K/10K walk/run) in 1982, anticipating 400-500 runners; more than 600 turned out for the Freedom Run, which has continued to be an annual event, attracting as many as 1,000 participants or more. The annual dinner dance at Mt. Vernon Country Club began in 1987 and also continues.
With donated office equipment from the Mental Health Association, offices moved from Carol's home to space on Meadow Drive in 1982 and in 1983 to Evergreen North.
Carol served as Executive Director until 1985 when the budget was $373,000 and the patient load 100.
After leaving Mt. Evans, Carol worked for two other hospices, one in Connecticut and another in Africa.
In 2006 Mt. Evans purchased and renovated a building at 3081 Bergen Peak Drive, relocating a year later. In 2011 Mt. Evans served 781 patients and counseled 245. Their daily census in 2012 runs about 120-125 patients.
Significant additions to the Mt. Evans offerings since Carol's departure include educational and bereavement programs such as Camp Comfort for children and numerous support groups for surviving loved ones. The organization currently is known as Mt. Evans Home Health and Hospice.
Sources: Interview with Carol Llinke, statistics from Mt. Evans Home Health and Hospice