Free Public Forum Focuses on How to Prepare and Be Empowered for End-of-Life Issues


PHILADELPHIA, PA, Oct. 27, 2015 — How do we prepare for the last chapters of our lives for ourselves or with our loved ones?

End-of-life issues will take center stage at “Being Mortal: Prepared and Empowered,” a free public forum Sunday, Nov. 8.

The forum, sponsored by Weavers Way Co-op, Ralston My Way, Northwest Village Network and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Germantown, will take place at 1:30-3:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, 6511 Lincoln Drive.

The outgrowth of a series of Co-op-sponsored community discussions of the Atul Gawande best-seller “Being Mortal,” the forum will explore issues such as:

  • End-of-life choices
  • Dealing with the complexity of medical care.
  • Preparing an advance directive.
  • Having a tough conversation with loved ones.

Featured speakers include:

Gene Bishop — A retired internist who practiced primary care and geriatrics in Philadelphia, Bishop has been thinking and talking about these issues with her patients for 30 years. She is a strong advocate for national health insurance.

Karl Ahlswede — A former cardiac surgeon at Lankenau Hospital who now specializes in advance care planning and palliative care, Ahlswede was one of the first surgeons to receive specialty board certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Ritajean Reed — Reed, chaplain at Wissahickon Hospice, has been involved with hospice for 20 years, previously serving as a volunteer, director of volunteers and hospice liaison. She has a master’s degree in pastoral counseling.

Wendy Liebling — A social worker and Certified Geriatric Care Manager/Aging Life Care Professional, Liebling is the founder and principal of Liebling Elder Care, a licensed and insured care-management practice.

The forum grew out of several community discussions of “Being Mortal,” sponsored by Weavers Way, partnering with Northwest Village Network and Ralston My Way. Participants saw the need to educate older adults and those who care for them about the issues raised in Gawande’s book. Gawande, a surgeon, public-health innovator and writer for The New Yorker, addresses a question that everyone faces: How can we make our last days more comfortable and meaningful?

It's the start of an ongoing series of community conversations and presentations to share ideas for creating better options and choices to ensure a good life to the very end, and making sure our family members, friends, caregivers and medical professionals know about our values and priorities.

Directions: The Unitarian Society of Germantown is at 6511 Lincoln Drive. Please note that the parking in the plaza at the front of the church is reserved for those with mobility issues. There is also a large parking lot in the rear, with the entrance on Johnson Street between Wayne Avenue and Greene Street (use 359 W. Johnson St. to locate with GPS.)
The Route 53 and Route H buses stop a short distance from the church, and Upsal station of the Chestnut Hill West Regional Rail Line is two blocks away.

About Weavers Way: With stores in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, the Co-op is member-owned, open to the public and committed to offering quality products that are local, sustainable and nutritious. For more information, visit

About Northwest Village Network: NVN is a network of neighbors dedicated to providing support for Northwest Philadelphia residents to live independently, stay active and be engaged in the community. For more information, visit

About Ralston My Way: My Way is a not-for-profit venture of Ralston Center, providing services to help Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill residents age 55+ live independently at home as they age. For more information, visit

About the Unitarian Society of Germantown: Unitarians have championed progressive causes in America since 1793, in Germantown since 1865 and on Lincoln Drive since 1928. For more information, visit