Who We Are

Since the Beginning
Since 1993, Tamarisk, a non-profit volunteer organization, has been dutifully serving families in need throughout Anoka County. Founded on the mission to provide dignified companionship to individuals faced with the end stages of terminal illness, Tamarisk volunteers attend to their very personal and individual non-medical needs providing comfort, support, and care at no cost to them. Since the beginning, over 800 families have been welcomed into the Tamarisk family as recipients of quality compassionate service.

The Gift of Time
Battling a terminal illness is an extraordinarily difficult journey for patients and their loved ones. The compassionate and caring Tamarisk volunteers lovingly and consistently give the gift of time providing family members a reprieve from the overwhelming worry, stress, and responsibilities. Tamarisk volunteer caregivers are thoughtfully matched with a companion in need, and for a few hours each and every week, they spend quality time together. During the home visit, family members appreciate a break to run errands, visit with friends, or rest. Families served by the Tamarisk volunteer caregivers gratefully welcome the friendships, kindness, compassion, and the invaluable gift of time.

Service to All
Thanks to dedicated and generous donors, community partners, and volunteers, Tamarisk continues to work towards the goal of service to all. Because traditional hospice programs limit their service to people with less than six months to live, some may go without the help they so desperately need. Tamarisk recognizes this need and strives to provide care regardless of the progression of the disease. All those involved with Tamarisk continue to work tirelessly to uphold the long-standing reputation for trustworthy, dedicated, and reliable service to all.

Our History

As her father succumbed to cancer in 1983, Gretchen Hanson quickly realized how unprepared she and her family were to deal with the emotional issues and other needs of their dying loved one. Having faced the pain and difficultly first hand, Gretchen resolved to find a way to help others travelling through the end stage of life’s journey. In 1993, Gretchen, aided by like-minded volunteers, founded Tamarisk to serve the social-emotional needs of the terminally ill and their families. For more than two decades, Gretchen and all those involved with Tamarisk have been privileged to touch the lives of hundreds of deserving families in immeasurable and invaluable ways.

Tamarisk is dedicated to meeting the social-emotional needs of individuals facing terminal illness at no cost to the family and is grateful for the support from individual, civic, and corporate donations, memorials, grants, and fundraising events enabling its operation to continue to grow.

Watch Tamarisk founder, Gretchen Hanson share about “The Heart and History of Tamarisk” on our you-tube channel.

View or download our Services Summary Sheet

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Caregiver Services

Tamarisk's volunteer caregivers are the heart of what Tamarisk does. Our volunteers meet the very personal and individual non-medical needs of the families we serve. Below are some of the services offered by our caregivers.

  • Play cards & games
  • Watch movies
  • Converse
  • Listen to music
  • Read to patient
  • Prepare meals
  • Housekeeping tasks

Our Core Values

Tamarisk’s mission is to create a caring presence and a safe haven for the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of persons, and their families, faced with the end stages of terminal illness. We attend to our companions’ non-medical needs, while simultaneously providing much-needed respite to caregivers.

In the spirit of the compassionate hospitality offered under the tamarisk tree to the strangers crossing the desert, Tamarisk volunteers are privileged to enter the lives and homes of individuals facing terminal illness. With open hearts, our volunteers offer unconditional kindness and care to the ill and dying in the form of companionship. Just as Abraham’s hospitality was offered without thought for compensation, Tamarisk’s volunteers donate their time freely and with a servant’s heart.

The hospice philosophy is at the heart of Tamarisk’s mission: Enriching the lives of those in need with compassionate and dignified companionship.

Integrity is the foundation for the collective conscience of Tamarisk. Safeguarding the dignity of the individuals made vulnerable by terminal illness—by treating them with compassionate respect and being worthy of their trust— are the benchmarks by which integrity is measured for all involved in the Tamarisk organization.

Presence is the collective soul of Tamarisk. The fundamental principle of presence is about caring for people in a loving and purposeful way; it is engaging the heart and creating an environment where people feel valued, cared for, loved, and affirmed. Presence is the spirituality of helping and sharing even when one would rather run away—to share in some small way the person’s pain, confusion, and desolation. It is the belief that the quality of presence restores meaning to life.

Life enriching
Life enrichment is the collective heart of Tamarisk. All lives are inherently valuable—regardless of circumstances—at all times. Treating and being treated with compassion, empathy, respect, and patience, while sharing laughter, encouragement, and kindness all contribute to any life enriching mutually rewarding relationship.

Client Testimonials