Arkansas Valley Hospice has always held a special place in Cassie Elder's heart.

Arkansas Valley Hospice has always held a special place in Cassie Elder's heart.

It was in the 1980s, only months after starting Arkansas Valley Hospice Inc., that the organization was entrusted with the care of Margaret Honey, Elder's late grandmother, during her illness.

"I know what our families are going through," said Elder, who on July 26 became the company's director. "I'm honored to continue to be a part of what Hospice means to this community and to help families through the journey of the most vulnerable time of their lives."

Elder, who was born and raised in La Junta and currently lives in Las Animas, holds two bachelor's degrees, in accounting and nursing, and worked for 14 years as deputy assessor for Bent County government and two years in Otero County before becoming a registered nurse for Hospice last year.

Elder's parents, Don and Janet Honey, own La Junta Livestock, which holds an annual calf sale in memory of Margaret for individuals who need care throughout the Arkansas Valley. The Honeys have done the calf auction every single year since her passing.

“We started the calf auction as a way to honor my grandma and give back to hospice; we had no idea the impact it would have on others, or really just how much it would help so many in the community,” Jace Honey, Elder's brother, said.

In 1955 Les and Margaret Honey built La Junta Livestock Commission Inc. and began the business of auctioning cattle. This year will mark the 63rd year the family-run La Junta Livestock is in operation with Don and Janet still overseeing the operation, Jace Honey at the helm as manager, Keo Honey as the buyer and Brian Elder, Cassie's husband, as the seller.

"The auction is just one way Hospice gives back to this community," said Elder, "and since I've been here, we have dedicated ourselves to being more involved with our community."

Elder says Hospice is making efforts to be involved in many more community events and thrives to differentiate themselves as the only local caregiver in the Arkansas Valley.

"We've gone through a lot of changes in the past few months but our work speaks for itself," said Elder. "We've learned a lot and found some things to give attention to, but the care we provide remains stable."

"2017 presented many challenges to our hospice," echoed Family Services Assistant Monica Armendariz. "We have endured many changes in administration in less than one year. Cassie was one of our four RNs and we feel she is the best person for this position. The board got it right with her! Cassie knows how and why Hospice works, she knows our staff, she has the administrative skills and experience, but most importantly, she has the heart for it. We are very excited to move forward with her as our leader. We now have an incredible staff and a supportive board. We can only improve and now be the best choice for Hospice care in the six counties we serve. After all, we are Arkansas Valley Hospice, the homegrown and deep-rooted Hospice."

Arkansas Valley Hospice provides hospice, palliative and respite care, as well as other programs, to community members in Otero, Crowley, Bent, Pueblo, Las Animas, and Lincoln counties.