By Lanier Laney
Although measuring only 4 feet 11 inches tall in her stocking feet, Beverley Porter is a giant on the Beaufort charity scene. As Executive Director of Friends of Caroline Hospice for the past 18 years, she took the organization from a leaky basement in a Beaufort house where she was the only full time nurse with four volunteers to today’s staff of 17 and over 650 volunteers with a totally paid for new headquarters on 13th St. in Port Royal. Friends now cares for more that 425 people a year and remains the only
Beaufort County hospice that accepts no money from its patients, or their families. Beverley has kept alive the vision of the founder, Veronica Tovey who started “Friends” more than 30 years ago to care for those suffering from life-threatening illness because her friend Caroline Quann was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 27. Said Caroline at the time, “I was determined to stay at home for my final days. My friends here in Beaufort made this possible as they rallied around me with medical care and abiding love. I needed to make my death a journey — not a lonely event.” And thus the organization which as a result has helped so many, many people over the years was born with her death, adding Caroline’s name to its title.
Friends of Caroline Hospice provides on-call support and respite to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Volunteers provide direct patient and family support and offer bereavement support for their children. Board member Tom Oliver had this to say about Beverley: “When my wife died after six months of hospice care, Beverly came herself to my house at 3 a.m. in the morning and was a great comfort to me and my two daughters. Her total commitment to our welfare is one of the reasons I decided to get involved with the organization.” He’s also on the search committee to find a replacement for Beverley who is retiring. Through “Friends” she met Frank Biermann who she calls “the love of my life” and plans to travel with him extensively in the coming years. She has two sons from a previous marriage, Dylan age 32, a navy pilot, and Tristan age 29 who is taking a double masters in international business. She first discovered Beaufort on a sailboat coming down the Intercoastal waterway, and when her husband retired from the military, they decided to relocate here.
Says Beverley, “Beaufort had everything for which we were looking: people, young and old who are fascinating, interesting, and involved in their community as well as an absolutely beautiful river and a wonderfully welcoming climate.”
Beverley was born in Wolverhampton, England, and worked all over the world in different aspects of nursing for 30 years in places like Sicily, Switzerland and Bermuda. She became a U.S. citizen in 2007 “one of the happiest accomplishments of my life,” says Beverly. And about her time as head of “Friends” she says, “what an incredible rewarding journey it has been! Because of my work as a hospice nurse, I have had the opportunity to visit homes in the community of families of all races — white, African American, Hispanic and Asians — as well as those from all economic backgrounds.” And she says she will miss “the joy of working with people that have been family to me — I have seen co-workers children grow up, grand babies born.”
Under Beverley’s leadership, she developed outreach groups such as the Bereavement Support for Children Program (which currently is in every public and private school in Northern Beaufort County,) Support for Parents Grieving the Loss of a Baby, and Cancer Support Group with Keyserling Cancer Center. She also holds caregiver sessions to provide information and assistance to the patient’s primary caregivers. Among her other achievements are The Volunteer Hospice Network, a nationwide group has been initiated with her coordination and a thrift store. The Red Door raises money for hospice services. Along with the very successful Band, Brews & BBQ event.
Beverley has continued to help our community by being on the board of many Beaufort health care organizations over the years and recognized by The Beaufort Gazette’s as its “2001 Health Professional of the Year.” In 2008 she was awarded the Palmetto Award presented by The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care for Outstanding Hospice vision and Leadership throughout North and South Carolina.
Currently a search committee headed by Worth Liipfert, who is President of the Board, is looking for a replacement to fill Beverley’s mighty shoes. Says Worth, “For the last 18 years, Beverley has been Friends of Caroline Hospice, and the number of lives she has touched cannot be measured. She is truly a gift to the citizens of Beaufort. While she can never be replaced,’ we are confident that through the search process, the right person will emerge to carry on the precious legacy she will leave in our hands this summer.”
It’s an ongoing legacy that will not be forgotten by the people of Beaufort. Thanks, Beverly!