Rock ’n’ Bowl fundraiser to support hospice foundation

Akula Foundation will hold a cool sock-hop on a hot afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Rock ’n’ Bowl, featuring fun activities for the entire family.

There will be face painting, refreshments, silent auction, bowling and dance music performed by Harvey Jesus and Fire. The annual festivities will also raise funds to help hospice patients in financial need.

Rick Perre will be shining up his 1934 Hudson sedan to allow guests to take pictures out front, beneath Rock ’n’ Bowl’s mural and iconic, neon bowling pin sign. He and his classic car buddies, who have all lost family members, appreciate the work Akula Foundation does and want to help support it however they can.

Akula Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Canon Hospice, is dedicated to providing emotional support to families, including reminiscence therapy to elderly nursing home residents at 80 locations, a weekly medical radio show, support groups for teenagers and summer camp for children who have experienced loss.

The organization’s mission is to provide care for anyone in need, including hospice patients without private insurance, Medicare, Medicare HMOs or Medicaid.

“We don’t want to turn them away if they don’t have funds,” said Jennifer Bergeron, Canon’s marketing director. “We are providing emotional support for the family as well as the patient,” she added.

Last year, Akula provided care to 58 New Orleans patients in financial need. The nonprofit also coordinates grief support groups throughout the city, free-of-charge, and biannual Celebration of Life services.

“We follow the family before, during and after the journey,” said Paige Perre, a bereavement counselor and volunteer coordinator for Canon as well as Rick Perre’s daughter.

She is one of two counselors responsible for maintaining contact with families for at least 13 months after a loved one’s passing.

Perre persuaded “Mr. Rick” and his circle of friends to show off their restored cars from the 1950s and ’60s. The buddies get together every Saturday morning at Riccobono’s Peppermill Restaurant to talk about cars and life. All have all suffered losses and supported one another.

“While they do have general ‘guy’ conversations, they also touch on things of the heart,” said Kitty Perre, Rick’s wife. Among the three friends, they have lost a wife, a mother and a daughter and received care from Akula’s hospice services.

There are more than 50 hospices in the New Orleans area, but only two have in-home and in-patient services with 38 beds at Ochsner Hospital on South Clearview Parkway.

“The majority of our patients are at home,” said Sue May, a Canon chaplain and administrator. A full staff of social workers, nurse practitioners, certified nursing assistants and clergy visit patients in the comfort of their own homes.

Ursula Newell Lewis, a social worker with Canon Hospice for 11 years, believes she has a special compassion suited to hospice care. When her father and grandparents passed away, the help she needed was not available. Now, she enjoys reaching out to support others.

At Rock ’n’ Bowl, Akula counselors and family members will have an opportunity to share the valuable friendships they’ve developed over time.

Tickets for adults are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Tickets for children, ages 6-20, are $15. Children under 5 are admitted free. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Christopher Guthrie at (504) 881-0452.