Steve (Punk) Georgen, of Farley, passed away on Sept. 9 after a long battle with lung and blood cancer.
Before his death the family had utilized the services of Hospice of Dubuque for three weeks and wanted to show their appreciation for the nurses who had helped Georgen pass on with dignity. Led by Georgen’s numerous grandchildren, they opened a lemonade stand 10 days later on Sept. 19 to raise money and give back to the hospice.
“The kids were begging to do a lemonade stand to give back to hospice,” said Lisa Moore, one of Georgen’s daughters. “We advertised to our large Gotto family who showed up to support and a few extras that drove by. The kids raised $962 that day. We also put together a shirt to honor dad through Just For You and sold 128 shirts with those proceeds going to hospice as well. We also had a few checks and Venmo payments sent to us with a current approximate total of $1,772 to donate.”
“We were just going to make an ordinary lemonade stand, but then we decided to turn it into one for hospice,” explained Charlie Georgen, one of the young leaders of the enterprise. “We’re grateful for all the people who came, like farmers, ranger riders, Grandpa’s friends and a lot of random people who just wanted lemonade and cookies. There was a football game going on and everybody stopped for lemonade. We had probably 12 side by sides sitting outside the front window.”
According to Georgen, so many people showed up that they ran out of lemonade in the middle of the sale and hand to stop and make more.
Another grandchild, Lauryn Link, added, “We wanted to raise it for the nurses that came to help grandpa. We were thankful and they helped grandpa a lot. We got a lot of cookies when grandpa died and had a whole big donation from friends, so we decided to sell lemonade and cookies because we thought it would bring in more money for hospice.”
According to Moore, all funds brought in were free will offerings for the lemonade or cookies.
“We just accepted whatever people felt like giving. It was donation only and if they wanted to take it for free, that would be fine.”
In addition to the lemonade, the whole family also took part in designing a tribute shirt, with the kids offering ideas for symbols on the shirt and revising design suggestions from the shirt manufacturer Just for You in Dyersville. Moore explained the meaning behind the design choices.
“His nickname was Punk, so we had it say ‘Punk Out Cancer’. The heart shape was because he formed a perfect heart on his hand before he passed away. Whatever mark it was it appeared a day before he passed. The orange is for the leukemia and COPD he had and the white is for lung cancer. The green shirt was because the hospice color is green, but instead of the lime we went with a darker green. It all has its perfect place on the shirt.”
Moore said the experience was a healing one for the family, allowing everyone, especially the kids, a chance to make a fond memory in a time of sadness.
“It was really soon after he passed so it was good to have some laughs together instead of some tears. That was the biggest thing, to have a good memory and something to think happy thoughts about him.”
“We’re a very close family. The lemonade stand was something the community really came together for us on and it was nice to be able to support hospice. Between the nurses coming three to five times a week and being on call all the time they always came when we needed them. They didn’t act like they needed to leave. They helped with bathing and have different services like music and massage therapy. They really want to make sure you’re comfortable, taken care of and that you can have dignity in those days.
The family presented the final check for $1,772 to Hospice of Dubuque Oct. 16, what would have been Georgen’s 70th birthday. With enthusiastic drive from Georgen’s grandchildren, they plan to make the lemonade sale an annual event in his honor.
“The kids will keep us in line to do it,” laughed Moore, “I know it.”