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Church offers fitting tribute to a volunteer couple who gave so much

At Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, special care is taken to ensure the comfort of family as well as patients. During patients’ final hours, their loved ones can access complimentary items from the Cancer Institute’s “Comfort Cart” --  a modified toolbox stocked with donated items. 

These items – ranging from toiletries, magazines, and nonperishable food and drink items – have up until recently been donated primarily by Patient and Family Advisory Council members.

But their efforts were given a big boost by St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church recent donation in honor of Eli and Terri Ferris, who prior to their deaths volunteered at St. Francis for many years. 

Terri also served as a nurse at St. Francis for approximately 50 years before she retired and began volunteering with Eli at the hospital.

In early January, the church organized a special memorial project for the couple, where they made 274 comfort stones and brought items to donate for the cart. In addition, there were 50 blankets, 50 colored pencils and coloring books, 25 picture frames, 15 word finds and inspirational books, 25 packages of thank you notes, 75 travel tissue packs, 23 bottles of body lotion, 60 travel hand sanitizers, and 1,325 items of assorted, non-perishable snacks. In all, there were just under 2,000 items donated to supply the cart. 

“This project was a perfect fit for honoring the Ferris family because Terri passed away from cancer,” says Helen Stitt, chair of the Humanitarian Team at St. Mary. “It was a way to give back to those who cared for her as well.”

The comfort stones were made by church members in hopes of providing a simple keepsake or token for memorial reasons. Each of the small, polished stones is decorated with devotional quotes and images of encouragement, love, hope and peace. 

“There was an overwhelming number of people from the church who helped make the stones,” says Stitt. “There were even children helping, which means they aren’t perfect, but they’re made with a lot of love.”

The money they received for the Ferris memorial fund was dedicated to the project, and Stitt says they still have ample funds to help replenish items as needed.

“We’re thankful to have found a project to honor the Ferris family so perfectly,” says Stitt. “They gave so much to Via Christi over the years and it feels good to continue contributing on their behalf.” 

**In addition to the time the Ferris family has donated to Via Christi, they have also made a scholarship available under Terri’s name. The Terri Ferris Living Scholarship Fund assists Via Christi volunteers who need additional help and also education expenses for those pursuing a job in the medical field. To learn more, contact the Volunteer office at 316-268-5172 or at


About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated student, workaholic and adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.