Koreen Sweet is not an artist herself but joined the Anderson Artists Guild to support her daughter, member Michelle Phillips, who is an artist, and because she enjoys being connected to a group of artists.
Sweet’s life has been a true journey. She grew up in Rochester, New York, but at one point in her young adulthood found herself living as a single mom in Massachusetts. That’s where she joined a radical Christian group. “They believed we were living in the end times and needed to be prepared to be the bride of Christ,” she said. She followed the members to Juneau, Alaska, where she lived in a co-op with other families. It was a mostly a good experience, she said, but she left after three years because she felt they were too harsh on children.
She completed nursing school in Anchorage, then moved back to New York near her father. She worked at a state psychiatric hospital for six years until her children were grown. Their leaving home devastated her. “I came home from work and cried,” she said. “But then it dawned on me that I could look at it as empty nest syndrome or as free-as-a-bird syndrome. It changed the way I felt.”
She completed a master’s degree in educational psychology, then moved to Anderson, closer to her sister, and landed a job at AnMed. “They offered me a good position as a case manager to develop a whole new program working with patients with major depression,” she said. “I loved it. It was probably the best job I ever had.”
She later worked for Hospice as a home nurse and retired from Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital.
These days, she serves as an end-of-life doula, volunteering with Hospice of the Foothills to help ease individuals out of this world. “I learned in Hospice that death is not the worst part of life; suffering is,” she said. She helps ease suffering by talking about a person’s unresolved issues or problems, as well as working with families to accept the death of their loved one. “There’s a large spiritual aspect to it,” she said. “I help people die peacefully.”