Juli smiling

2016 Distinguished Alumna of the Year

The simple touch of a hand. A comforting embrace. A warm smile. Small things, but the weight they carry with the patients at Kimbilio Hospice, an extension of Living Room Ministries, is life-changing. Juli (McGowan ’01) Boit knows this, and recognizes the key to caring for the sick and dying goes beyond treatment and medicine to loving and caring for the whole person.

A graduate of Azusa Pacific’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, Juli learned early that compassionate care makes all the difference. A month-long trip to Kenya in 2000 with an APU mission team brought to light the needs of the country and filled her with a calling to apply her nursing skills serving the people in East Africa.

“My eyes were opened to poverty in a new way, and not just the hard things about Africa, but also really beautiful things,” said Juli.

Juli laughing with child
Juli sitting beside tree
Church building
Front of a funeral home building

After graduating with her BSN in 2001, Juli spent three years working with AIDS patients at the Infectious Disease Unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Following completion of her MSN degree and after two more mission trips to Kenya, Juli knew God was calling her back to Africa, but on a more permanent basis. In 2004, she moved to Kenya to work as a nurse practitioner with Empowering Lives International, led by Azusa Pacific alumnus Don Rogers ’81.

Aerial view of hospitalFive years into her journey, a new vision began to grow—this time to build a ministry dedicated to hospice care. In 2009, Living Room Ministries formed out of a desire to create a community of compassionate care, a place that offered dignity and quality of life to those battling life-threatening illnesses. Juli had seen too many individuals who were sick or dying become ostracized by their communities, and she wanted to change that stigma. Her understanding of the needs of the sick and dying she had served, combined with her experience with AIDS patients and a nursing education that focused on treating the whole person—physical, emotional, spiritual—laid the foundation for the type of care Living Room would provide.

Juli caring for baby
People worshipping
Juli caring for sick child
Misty landscape

“My eyes were opened to poverty in a new way, and not just the hard things about Africa, but also really beautiful things.”

Juli Boit

“We believe that we’re not just to take care of diseases. That it’s about holistic care,” said Juli. “Everything that we do with love, it’s holy to God.” And that love can be seen in the faces of every individual—staff and guests—at Kimbilio Hospice.

Now Kimbilio Hospice also serves as a mission opportunity and training site for students from APU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Each year, DPT students travel to Kenya to apply their learning while providing much-needed physical therapy care and education to Kimbilio’s patients. Like Juli when she first traveled to Kenya, these students benefit from the field experience and opportunity to provide compassionate care firsthand.

Top-down view of hospital

The need for quality hospice care in Kenya is great, and Living Room Ministries is expanding to a second site in Eldoret to help meet that need. The new site, a beautiful space covered in trees and gardens, allows Juli and her team to reach even more individuals, and journey alongside them in love, providing physical, emotional, and spiritual care as they live out the rest of their days.