Nancy-Diane Mannelli Brewer
"New York didn't resonate with me," says Nancy-Diane Mannelli Brewer, who grew up in Northport, on Long Island. "It's too fast-paced and competitive. I left when I was 18." Mannelli studied for a year at West Virginia U in Morgantown, where she discovered Transcendental Meditation, and spent three years of quiet spiritual practice at an ashram in the Catskills, where she met her husband-to-be Bill Brewer, an artist. She taught TM for a while in Annapolis and in Bermuda, until she and Brewer got married, moved to Seattle, and had a daughter, Rhice. "When Rhice was four, I thought, 'I need a career,'" says Mannelli, who went to nursing school and got a job in the oncology unit at the Seattle Children's Medical Center. "The kids had incredible stories. They taught me a lesson about living and dying." When the Brewers moved to Eugene in 1992, Mannelli found work at Sacred Heart Hospital. "I've been on the hospice team since '94 or '95," she says. "It has a similar thread to the work I had been doing with children." After attending a training in pediatric palliative care in 2004, Mannelli joined with her colleague, LCSW Dora Parys, to launch the Little Stars program, offering in-home hospice care to seriously ill children. "She and I have worked closely together since then," says Mannelli. "Little Stars has served many families in Lane County."