Ashley Lobdill was inspired to give back to Suncoast Hospice after experiencing extraordinary care during her mother’s final days.

Scott Dickerson and Ashley Lobdill at the 2023 Suncoast Hospice Beach Stroll.

At first, Ashley thought she would become a volunteer. But when she called to inquire about joining the volunteer team, she cried telling her mom’s story and realized she needed to wait until her grief wasn’t so fresh.

Then, a change in work schedule left little time for Ashley to volunteer.

So Ashley and her father, Scott Dickerson, found other ways to support Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health.

“We wanted to be hands-on because of what we saw,” Ashley said. “So many people didn’t have family.”

Ashley and her husband, Jess, work at Woodworks Tampa Bay and have donated furniture to the Suncoast Hospice Gala and other items to the Suncoast Hospice Fashion Show, Luncheon & Boutique.

And the family has coordinated a team, Helen’s Crew, to walk in the Suncoast Hospice Beach Stroll on May 4 on Clearwater Beach. Last year, Helen’s Crew, was the third-highest fundraising team at the stroll. Check out the Helen’s Crew Beach Stroll webpage.

The 23rd Annual Suncoast Hospice Beach Stroll is a special time to celebrate life, remember and walk to support the special care Suncoast Hospice has provided our community for more than 45 years.​ Supporting this event allows expert, compassionate care to continue for anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay. To take part, visit the Beach Stroll webpage.

Helen Dickerson passed away just before Christmas 2022 at Suncoast Hospice’s North Pinellas Care Center.

Scott and Ashley will never forget how the Care Center staff made Helen comfortable during her final days. And they’ll never forget how welcome they felt, from the cookies the staff kept feeding Scott to the holiday decorations they encouraged the family to put up in Helen’s room.

“We had the room set up nice,” Scott said. “The room was like home. It took us an hour and a half to take things out of there.”

Helen died at age 72 after suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She and Scott enjoyed life together in New Jersey before moving to Clearwater. Helen was a bookkeeper, and Scott drove a tractor trailer. They had two daughters, Jenn and Ashley.

“Helen was a fantastic woman. I met her when I was 17. I lied to her. I told her I was 19. She was seven years older than me,” Scott said. “We had a beautiful life, from start to finish. I wouldn’t change it for the world, except to have her here.”

Helen’s health challenges began in 2006 when she suffered a collapsed lung after years of smoking. She quit cigarettes for a few years and enjoyed good health, but she received a COPD diagnosis in 2013. Things got bad in 2021, and Helen made several trips to the emergency room though 2022.

After an especially harrowing trip to the hospital, Helen was fitted with a BiPAP machine to help her breathe. She was admitted to Suncoast Hospice and went to the Care Center.

“We thought she would go home at that point,” Ashley said. “They were talking about her going home and having to sleep on the BiPAP.”

But Helen didn’t want to keep the BiPAP on and opted instead for comfort care. Her condition declined over the next few days, though she rallied a couple of days before she passed way.

“They’re like, ‘This happens.’ They explained the whole process,” Ashley said of the Suncoast Hospice staff.

Said Scott, “The information line was excellent.”

The family was together for Helen’s final moments.

“I was in bed with her. It was 10:30 (pm), and all of a sudden I looked over and I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, she’s going.’ The breaths are really far apart,” Scott said.

Scott summoned a nurse, and soon Helen took her last breath with Ashley, Scott and Jenn by her side.

Ashley, Scott and Jenn were left with precious memories and gratitude for how Suncoast Hospice made Helen’s final days peaceful.

“Hospice is over and above everybody, what you do for people,” Scott said.