Center for Hospice Care’s Helping Hands Award is presented to members of our community who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.
The year 1980 saw two major developments in the healthcare industry in our community – oncologist Dr. Rafat Ansari began caring for patients at Michiana Hematology Oncology and Center for Hospice Care served their first patient. The Ansaris were chosen for the 36th Helping Hands Award to recognize their exponential impact in our community through their acts of kindness and philanthropy.
The Ansaris were integral in establishing autism advocacy and services in our community through the creation of the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at LOGAN Center in South Bend. the center, named for their daughter Sonya, provides a range of services, resources, and training for parents, educators and professionals who face the daily realities of autism. In addition, Zoreen and Rafat presented a transformational gift to the University of Notre Dame to establish the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion in the Keough School of Global Affairs. The Institute focuses on religious studies and research, with worldwide engagement and education. Further demonstrating their commitment to education, Zoreen was essential in the creation of two elementary schools in Sindh, Pakistan. Rafat’s published work in oncology care has provided guidance to the medical community at large. The compassionate care, support and guidance provided through their work as physicians has given great comfort to innumerable patients and families in our community.
Zoreen and Rafat moved to South Bend in 1980 and locally raised their three children, Sarah, Adam and Sonya. Through their ongoing work and generosity, the Ansaris have created a ripple effect across the community and around the world. Center for Hospice Care and the Hospice Foundation are honored to recognize Zoreen and Rafat by sharing the wonderful ways they are improving the quality of living for so many.
Catherine Hiler was born in Belfast, N. Ireland, and emigrated to the U.S. with her parents and two brothers, joining extended family in New Jersey. Catherine earned her B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey; and pursued graduate study in corporate finance and business management at George Washington University and Golden Gate University.
Catherine then spent several years in San Francisco where she worked at First Interstate Bank of California as a corporate lending officer. After moving to Washington, D.C. in 1977, Catherine served on the minority staff to the Committee on Government Relations for the House of Representatives. She also served as Executive Director for both the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission and the White House Conference on Small Business. It was in Washington, D.C. that she met her future husband, Congressman John P. Hiler of Indiana.
Since moving to South Bend in 1993, Catherine and John have raised three daughters – Alison, Caitlin and Morgan – and served the community in many capacities. Catherine served on The Stanley Clark School board of trustees and was a parent representative on the John Adams High School committee that established the International Baccalaureate magnet program. In 2016, Catherine received the Individual Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
We like to believe that Catherine found her true passion when she was asked to serve on the Center for Hospice Care (CHC) board as a volunteer member and ultimately, the Hospice Foundation board. If that were not enough, Catherine graciously agreed to chair our five-year comprehensive campaign, “Cornerstones for Living: The Crossroads Campaign.” This highly-successful five-year campaign focused on raising money to endow many of our signature programs and complete development of our Mishawaka Campus.
For more than 60 years, Sr. Carmel has dedicated her life to serving others both locally and internationally. As a Sister of the Holy Cross, she has mentored several generations of children as a teacher, enriched the lives of numerous individuals through her various volunteer endeavors, and enjoyed the comaraderie of her fellow Sisters while serving in Brazil.
Born in South Bend, Sister Carmel has spent most of her life in the area. She attended St. Mary’s Prep School, St. Joseph’s Academy and St. Mary’s College before venturing to Fort Wayne to earn her master of science in education from St. Francis College. Sr. Carmel’s teaching career began in 1954 and continued through 1985. Following her “retirement,” she began serving as librarian at St. Joseph High School, and only recently “retired” – at the age of 85 – from her service as an assistant librarian.