Story by Dan Thompson | Article Provided by Coeur d’Alene Living Local
Darlene Richardson stood from her seat next to the window, lifted her phone and took another picture of the Spokane River. Then she sat, two chairs from her son Bert, and smiled.
A cruise down the Spokane River was on her bucket list, she said, and One More Time made it happen, “before I got too sick.”
“I haven’t found too many people willing to go the extra mile,” Darlene said. “I didn’t even know they existed.”
Darlene, 77, and Bert took their three-hour cruise in mid-July, arranged by a nonprofit called One More Time, which Tiffinay Walker started about a year-and-a-half ago. The mission of the organization “is to enrich the lives of adults with life-limiting issues or disease by helping them to have an experience ‘One More Time.’”
“I’m well pleased that the agency could help with this,” Bert said.
“I’m a country girl at heart,” Darlene said. “I love the trees. I love the water. It’s peaceful.”
So far, Walker has helped arrange about 25 of these experiences and another 40 or so birthday parties with the aim of doing more.
Emmert Engelbrecht, 81, joined the cruise as well, along with his sister Ardith and brother Jerry. In his nearly 50 years living in Coeur d’Alene, Emmert had never been on a cruise like this. For the last three years he has lived at Pacifica Senior Living.
During the ride, Emmert recounted numerous stories from his childhood: the time he ran away from home as a teenager, the seasons he spent on a buffalo ranch in Colorado.
“He talked the whole time,” Ardith said.
Walker said she has worked in health care her whole life and grew up in and around nursing homes because her mother was the director of nursing at one such facility. She remembered attending events much like this boat cruise with residents when she was younger.
In February 2017, her dad died unexpectedly after contracting pneumonia, and it jolted her. In the wake of her father’s death, Walker said she kept mumbling about wanting to do something with him “one more time.”
About six months later, she and a friend helped drive a patient to the doctor. They got to her house and explained what they were doing.
“She stands up, gets in her chair, goes outside, gets in the car,” Walker said. “She wanted to go for a ride.”
When they returned to her Post Falls home after the visit with the doctor, the woman asked if they could drive around just a little bit more. They drove around the block on a beautiful fall day and brought her back home. The woman died 36 hours later.
“I went home that night and was very upset about her dying. I have no idea why. I’ve been around people dying often,” Walker said. “It really just bothered me, and I kept saying I need to do this with more people.”
Shortly after, Walker ordered a book online about starting a nonprofit, and she went down the book’s checklist. In December 2017, she officially founded One More Time. The organization’s logo is a scene with two lounge chairs facing a sunset over a lake. The seats, Walker said, are for her and her dad.
Since its inception, Walker and her children—she has four of them—have baked cupcakes and cakes for about 40 hospice patients, and “it’s super fun,” she said. For many of them, the birthday party focus long ago shifted to their children and grandchildren. So, a party for them—with their favorite cake—is a unique and memorable experience.
She has made carrot cakes, cheese cakes, even a maple bar cake, and often is invited to stick around for the party.
One More Time has also helped organize experiences of all sorts for about 25 people and a few of their family members, like the boat ride down the Spokane River.
“They both just wanted to go on a boat ride,” Walker said.
There was also a skydiving outing in Ritzville, a horseback ride for a former horse trainer who hadn’t been on a horse since a stroke 19 years ago, and a Willy Nelson concert for an 87-year-old superfan who’d never seen him in concert.
“It’s kind of funny because I’m having trouble with grant writing, because it’s hard to narrow it down. We just do what people’s wishes are,” said Walker, who often describes it as Make-A-Wish for adults with life-limiting conditions.
She also wants to expand another element of the organization called “Tell Me a Story One More Time,” which asks people to do just that. Walker has only done one so far but wants to capture peoples’ stories, told in their own voices.
There is not another organization quite like One More Time in North Idaho, so Walker said it’s been a pretty easy pitch when she tells people about it. She is also well connected among senior health-care facilities and is a life-long resident of the region, so when someone requests a certain experience, she is good at finding someone who knows someone who can help.
“The problem is they don’t know about it,” Walker said. “Everybody always wants to donate.”
A boat ride like this one isn’t particularly difficult to arrange, but Walker said there’s a comfort level with having One More Time organize it rather than a family doing it themselves. And there is also sometimes the fear to even ask for it, she said, which is why the referrals often come from caretakers at various senior living facilities rather than the experience recipients themselves.
Walker said she would love to see the program continue to grow and perhaps become a full-time job for her. One More Time is hosting a dinner theater fundraising event called “Under the Sea” on September 21 and a “Deck The Halls” event in early December. Walker said she would like to expand beyond the five northern Idaho counties and the Spokane area.
The river cruise was a special experience for Walker as well: It was the first time she’d been on a boat since her father died, and many of her best memories with him center around being on the water, she said.
For Darlene, the experience was a memorable one. She and Bert were among the last to disembark onto the dock at Lake Coeur d’Alene.
“It was fantastic,” she said. “I give it 120 percent.”
As for what she liked about it? “Everything,” she said. “It was nice.”