Jean Marie Stockton has been with Hospice of the Valley for 30 years, nearly as long as the organization has been around.
Now serving as director of clinical services for the West Office, Stockton’s contributions to the community were recognized Friday in a surprise ceremony that left her nearly speechless.
Stockton was one of several members of Hospice of the Valley in attendance at a meeting with local legislators Friday to discuss what hospice does and how important it is to the community. Then, the tables were turned.
Those same legislators were suddenly holding plaques and certificates, and Stockton could only smile as the room filled with dozens upon dozens of hospice employees.
“When I saw you coming in I was going to say, ‘You’re in the wrong room,’” she said.
Harold Richards, a friend of Hospice of the Valley who once had an uncle in its care, served as master of ceremonies, saying he owed her a personal debt of thanks.
“When my uncle was in hospice she always had time to say, ‘Come in, how can I help you?’ We never heard the word ‘can’t’ from her,” he said.
As the room filled with applause, Richards embraced Stockton.
“This is just a small fraction of the recognition you deserve,” he said.
When Stockton began at Hospice of the Valley, she said, there were fewer than 10 patients. She would load her pickup truck with medical supplies and make visits all over the Valley.
“From Buckeye to Fountain Hills,” she said.
Today, she leads the largest of the hospice’s five clinical offices, with 240 staff members serving an average of 730 patients per day.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, had planned to attend but was unable to make it. Shari Farrington, his field representative, was there in his place, to deliver a letter in which Franks thanked Stockton for her service.
“Your talent for hospice care leadership is unparalleled,” he wrote. “So many lives have been touched by your dedication. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude and sincere congratulations.”
Farrington also presented Stockton with a flag flown over the United States Capitol on Oct. 11 in her honor.
District 9 Reps. Debbie Lesko and Rick Gray were in attendance, as well, to present Stockton with a plaque recognizing her work.
“On behalf of the state of Arizona we would like to honor you with this plaque as thanks for everything you’ve done for this community,” Lesko said.
Stockton, who was honored at the Hospice of the Valley’s annual employee recognition event earlier this month, said she prefers to deflect praise to her staff.
“I’m very grateful for the recognition,” Stockton said. “But this isn’t about me. It’s more about the team. I’m thrilled, but this is really about all of them and the work they do every day.”