LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nestled in the Butchertown neighborhood, Hildegard House has been the final home of 150 people.

What You Need To Know

  • Hildegard House is a nonprofit that provides end-of-life care

  • It serves people who are homeless or have no family to care for them

  • The nonprofit organization received a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 Louisville

  • Hildegard House is renovating to open a second location

“That’s sweet Bella. She lived in room one. She was a sweetheart,” said Hildegard House Executive Director Karen Cassidy as she looks at pictures on a mantle. 

As a palliative care nurse practitioner, Cassidy saw people dying with no access to hospice care. Many were homeless or had no family to care for them. In 2016, she opened the Hildegard House, Kentucky’s only comfort care home, to address the issue. 

‘It’s amazing to be able to serve people that sometimes come from really difficult circumstances and to be able to provide them dignity and peace at the end of life with special food, music, volunteers that care for them just like a family,” said Cassidy. 

Hildegard House provides care at no cost. Residents have only one responsibility, living out their last days happily. 

“They each have a hospice team that comes which builds for their medical care, but we provide the housing so we have mortgage and utilities and food and all that is through donations,” said Cassidy. 

The Louisville chapter of Impact100 awarded seven nonprofit organizations grants totaling $450,000. Hildegard House was one of four organizations to receive $100,000. The grant is being used to renovate a second house, doubling the number of people the organization can serve from three residents to six. Hildegard House hopes to open its second location, beside the first one, sometime next year. 

Whether scooping ice cream at 4 a.m., singing a song or flipping through channels to find a favorite show, volunteers provide the majority of care and companionship for residents. It takes 42 volunteers working one five-hour shift each week to serve the house’s three residents. They complete specialized compassionate care training, but most, like volunteer coordinator Jana McNally, already have it in their hearts. 

“My son died from leukemia when he was a little boy when he was six years old and because you have someone in your life that you’ve taken care of like that I think I was just drawn to this kind of work because of that,” said McNally. 

McNally was with a resident when he died. Though the work may seem saddening, volunteers choose to focus on the joy of helping people realize they are worthy of love. “He’d been homeless for six years, and he didn’t have anybody in his life. He never got a phone call. He never got a visitor. It was almost as if just no one knew he existed,” said McNally. “We gave him so much love and attention. He was very thin, he had pancreatic cancer. He lived four more months, which seemed crazy at the time, and I think he just thrived on the love and attention.”

Every few months, a service is held to honor the people who lived and died here. It’s an opportunity to grieve and reflect on the impact they made on the lives of residents. 

“Every day I go in their rooms and I look at the kind of care that we’re able to provide them and the kind of love that they receive from us,” said Cassidy. “It fills my heart with joy to be able to do that.” 

Whether it’s for a few months or just a few days, the Hildegard House provides a home to die with dignity.