Family and friends gathered to witness the women’s marriage at a ceremony just outside father’s window at N.J. hospice and palliative care residence, following pandemic safety guidelines.

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ, July 01, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — Chelsea Mills, who grew up in Scotch Plains, had been planning a September wedding with her fiancé, Samantha Tavares. However, when she got a phone call in early June that her father, Reverend John Mills was in his final days, the couple’s wedding plans changed quickly. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was still in place, pulling together a wedding would not be easy.

Rev. Mills was admitted as a hospice patient to the Center for Hope in Scotch Plains on Monday, June 1 and he was declining quickly. Three days later, family and friends gathered to witness the women’s marriage at a ceremony just outside his window due to pandemic safety guidelines. He died 24 hours later.

“Everything happened so quickly; we could not have done this without the staff at the Center. They went above and beyond to make sure my father was well taken care of and made this wedding happen literally overnight,” said Mills. “Samantha suggested we get married right away so my dad could know that his youngest child tied the knot. Having him be there in any way meant a lot to me.”

Mills, 25 and Tavares, 32, who now live in Trenton, have known each other for years through Tavares’ younger sister and they reconnected a few years ago at a mutual friend’s home. They were immediately interested in deepening their relationship and got engaged last year. Although this was not how they’d envisioned their wedding, Mills is grateful for how it all came together.

When it became clear that there would not be much time left with her father, she and Tavares contacted the Center staff, who sprang into action to help the brides put a wedding together overnight—complete with decorations, a cake and photographer. Reverend Joy Mounts of the First Congregational Church in Westfield—where her father had been a minister when Chelsea was growing up—was contacted to perform the ceremony.

The Center for Hope is no stranger to putting together special celebrations for patients and their families. Three years ago, the Scotch Plains residence was the setting for a “Christmas in February” for a patient who’d been unable to be home with family during the holidays, and there have been several weddings, anniversary parties and christenings there in recent years. The Center staff also arranged for a patient, who was a fan of actor/singer Harry Connick Jr., to attend a show Connick was performing in at Paper Mill Playhouse and meet him after the show.

“I can’t thank the Center for Hope enough for everything they have done for me and my family. I couldn’t have asked for a better facility to take care of my father, and the staff was unbelievably caring. Thank you for allowing us to share the special day with everyone; it gave me and my family closure and we so appreciate it,” said Mills. She added that she plans to get involved at the Center as a volunteer to give back to others and support the Center’s work.

The Center for Hope offers hospice and palliative care in its two residences in Scotch Plains and Elizabeth, and provides hospice care to patients in the wider community where they live. For more information, visit

About Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc.
Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care (Center for Hope) is a non-profit, community-based organization that provides terminally ill patients with hospice care, and their families or loved ones with physical, emotional, and spiritual support during their time of need. The Center actively supports the individual’s right to live out the remainder of their life with dignity and in comfort, surrounded by the love of family and friends, and eased from the burdens of physical, emotional, spiritual, financial or social distress. Center for Hope welcomes all terminally ill patients, their families and loved ones without concern for race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or ability to pay. It also offers pain and symptom management for chronically ill and seriously ill patients through its palliative care program. Center for Hope operates two facilities in Scotch Plains and Elizabeth; the latter provides nearly $3.5 million a year in charity care. For more information, visit

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