Melissa Barber

Melissa, our Electronic Communications Specialist, is a native Idahoan, has called Oregon home for over half her life. She joins the DDNC team after ten years of volunteering and working for the local nonprofit Friends of Trees, with a two-year break serving as a Health Education volunteer with the Peace Corps in the West African nation of Mali. Prior to the Peace Corps, Melissa worked as the operations manager and in-house techie for Arcadia Investment Advisors. Throughout her career she has striven to find new ways to connect people, build community, and use technology to heighten the awareness of important causes like DDNC. She graduated with a BS in Biology from Pacific University. Melissa joined DDNC in May 2010.

National Center Ice Bucket Challenge

Death with Dignity National Center Ice Bucket Challenge

Last week, our executive director Peg Sandeen reflected on a social media phenomenon to raise money for ALS research: the Ice Bucket Challenge. Not long after the article was posted on our blog, Peg was challenged to get ice water dumped on her or make a donation to the ALS Association.

Ever the overachiever, Peg decided to do both and she upped the ante by challenging all of us here at the National Center to take part, pledging to donate for each staff member who participated. All of us played a role. Peg, Cindy, Don and I received the ice water. Pete, Shaun, and Roger dumped the water, and Jennifer shot the video. We filmed our challenge next to one of Portland's iconic Animals in Pools water fountains. Check out the result:

Read more: National Center Ice Bucket Challenge

Barbara Coffin: Dedicated Advocate and Volunteer

Barbara Coffin and her daughter. Photo care of KOMO News.

In 2008, we worked with our local partners Compassion & Choices of Washington to pass Washington's Death with Dignity Act through a ballot initiative. With over 58% of voters approving I-1000, Washington became the second US state to enact a law emulating our model legislation which allows terminally ill adults the right to control the timing and manner of their own deaths.

This effort happened with the help of hundreds of hours of work by thousands of volunteers. One prominent, dedicated volunteer before and after the campaign was Barbara Coffin. On Tuesday this week, she said goodbye to her loved ones and exercised her right under Washington's Death with Dignity Act. She died in her daughter's arms.

In an interview with KOMO News she shared why she chose to plan her own death stating, "Right now everything hurts. It hurts to move, it hurts to get up and down, hurts to take a breath. I have no energy. It's hard to look at me on the outside and understand how bad I am on the inside. So it might be hard to understand how ready I am."

Read more: Barbara Coffin: Dedicated Advocate and Volunteer

This Week in the Movement

Bishop Desmond Tutu

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last couple of weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Religious Leaders Supporting Death with Dignity

Lord Carey on assisted dying

The House of Lords in the UK will hear testimony and debate their proposed Death with Dignity bill this week. The bill closely emulates our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which Oregonians approved in 1994 and reiterated their support in 1997. Much like in the US, Death with Dignity is a hotly debated topic in the UK, and the lead up to this week's hearing there've been many excellent op-eds in support of the law. Some which have come out in the last week have been by prominent religious leaders.

All of them looked at their understanding of their religious doctrines in the context of being close to loved ones who've died. Each challenged their Churches' official statements and how teachings of sanctity of life are consistent with giving people who are dying more options in their final days.

Last week, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey shared why he changed his mind and now strongly supports the proposed Death with Dignity law in the UK. This week has been witness to supportive statements from Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu and the current Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson.

Read more: Religious Leaders Supporting Death with Dignity

This Week in the Movement

The greatest human freedom

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last couple of weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

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Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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