Shining Light Award goes to . . .
Posted: January 26, 2013
The Winchester Star
Winchester — Nancy and Larry Omps were expecting a piece of paper and a few pats on the back.
What they got when they went to accept the Shining Light award from Blue Ridge Hospice was standing ovations and “a surprisinly heavy” glass statue to thank them for their service, said Larry, president of Omps Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Winchester.
“As we left, every employee lined the hallway and clapped,” said Larry, 68, who has lived in Winchester all his life. “I felt like [Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III] leaving a game.”
President and Chief Executive Offcer Ernie Carnevale presented the award to the Ompses at the Dec. 20 Blue Ridge Hospice board of directors meeting in the organization’s administrative offices.
For the last 10 years, Blue Ridge Hospice has annually recognized an individual (or individuals) who has contributed greatly to the work and success of the nonprofit health-care organization, he said.
“Each and every one of the people that we have given the Shining Light award to, if they all share one characteristic, it is that they all quietly support our community in their own way,” said Carnevale, a Leesburg resident. “They normally don’t do it for recognition purposes.”
The Ompses have been involved with the hospice since it started 30 years ago, providing support whenever called upon, said Linda Roberts, the organization’s community liaison.
Larry served as a board member for six years and helped to provide “guidance, forethought, and leadership to our organization,” she said. The Ompses are also community resources for the hospice’s annual bereavement conference, which offers educational insight on end-of-life issues.
“I don’t believe it was a single incident that initiated the Shining Light presentation this year, but rather a culmination of years of support and advocacy from these two generous and community-minded individuals,” Roberts said.
Carnevale pointed out the family’s 15-year tradition of donating money to Lights of Love in honor of every person they served that year. In 2012, the program raised $39,000, which was split evenly between hospice and Winchester Medical Center projects.
The money given to the hospice is designated for the Patient Care Fund, which helps people unable to pay for services.
“As in anything we do, any time someone does something that cares for one of our patients because they don’t have the means to support their care or whatever the case may be, it is a big deal,” Carnevale said.
Neither of the Ompses was familiar with the award when Carnevale called to tell them about it, Larry said. They went to the board meeting thinking they would receive a certificate and some words of thanks.
When the couple arrived at the meeting, board members gave them a standing ovation and Carnevale thanked them for their service.
For Nancy, the experience was somewhat overwhelming, but “in a good way,” she said. “It was very humbling.”
The Ompses support the hospice because they believe in it and what it does, so receiving the award came as a big surprise, she said.
“It is a service that reaches out to anyone and everyone,” she said. “It is a service that allows people to die with dignity. It is a very needed service in this area.”
Working in the funeral profession, Larry meets family members at their most delicate times emotionally. And if they are unhappy about something, they will express it.
“I have never in my entire time heard a bad thing about hospice, and that speaks volumes,” he said.
The Ompses, who have been married 36 years, have never volunteered in a way that has them interacting with patients or their families, Larry said. They didn’t want to seem as though they were influencing or putting pressure on families to use their services. “I feel there is a very thin line there we are treading,” Larry said.
But in the absence of that opportunity to serve, any time the hospice calls for help in another way, the Ompses do what they can, said Larry, a member of the Winchester City Council for 12 years beginning in 1992 and mayor for the last eight of those years.
Omps bought the funeral home in 1977 from his father Voyne Omps, who started the business in in 1936.
Along with his business, Larry said, his proudest accomplishments are being married to Nancy and raising three children with her — Caroline Brown, 40, of Winchester and Paul Omps, 34, and Justin Omps, 35, both of Arlington.
— Contact Laura McFarland firstname.lastname@example.org