25 March 2017
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Tampa Bay’s Suncoast Hospice’s ‘3 musketeers’ bring hope, comfort to patients, families

By Dalia Dangerfield, Reporter at Bay News 9

[From l-r] Izabel Gaertner, 75, Irene Cascione, 85, and Terry Pellegrino, 97, have volunteered at Suncoast Hospice Care Center for a total of 32 years. (Dalia Dangerfield, staff)

Volunteering at Suncoast Hospice Care Center in North Pinellas can be quite the emotional journey. Perhaps no one knows this more than three Bay area seniors known around the facility as “the three musketeers.”

  • Group has volunteered at facility for total of 32 years
  • Group volunteers three times a week
  • Group provides comfort to sickest of patients, families

97-year-old Terry Pellegrino, 85-year-old Irene Cascione and 75-year-old Izabel Gaertner have volunteered at Suncoast Hospice for a total of 32 years.

“We touch their lives, they touch our lives,” Cascione said.

Senior volunteer coordinator Alicia Lawler came up with the trio’s heroic moniker.

“I think of these as my ‘three musketeers,'” said Lawler.

The “musketeers”, once strangers to each other, have formed an inseparable bond through helping others.

“We are happy that we were put together,” said Gaertner. “I mean, it all happened by chance.”

“This is our purpose,” Pellegrino said.

Three times a week, they take on a very tough job: providing comfort to the sickest of patients and their families.

“Some days I feel, I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” Cascione said.

But she keeps going.

“I think the more we give, the more we receive,” Cascione said.

Pellegrino, who will be 98 in May, agreed. In addition, she’s happy to tell patients her age as a way of providing hope.

“It makes the patients feel good,” Pellegrino said. “They say if you can do it, I can do it.”

The musketeers said they just want to bring joy and laughter to patients during the most troubling of times. The volunteer effort has transformed their lives, and they said they’re better off for it.

“It’s something that fills my heart,” Gaertner said.

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