Volunteering, a rewarding experience for everyone
We know how much hospice volunteers mean to our patients and their families. We hear how their sheer presence provides a respite during a trying time or allows a caregiver a valuable moment for themselves. We hear in letters and in phone calls. But there is another side to volunteering as well: how much the experience of being a hospice volunteer means to the person who gives of their time.
I have been a hospice volunteer at Community Nurse & Hospice Care for the last five years. What is unique about our role is that we come in as support to patients and families, not as medical staff or caregivers, but as empathetic neighbors with a desire to help. And I’ve learned that this help is a two-way street. Every situation is unique and we learn from every encounter. Our patients and families teach us so much. They inspire us.
We see how they manage their everyday lives to honor the decision to remain at home. They show us the joys of those small moments when we truly connect with the people we love.
I’ve been with families for several months, through the holidays from Halloween through Easter. I’ve observed family traditions. But sometimes it’s just a short conversation with a patient; an hour or two in a bedroom learning a life story; a morning spent “holding the fort,” taking calls and answering the door while the caregiver runs errands or takes a much-needed rest.
It seems like so little…to sit, to listen, to hold a hand, to offer support… yet it makes our own lives so much richer. Our community becomes larger and even more personal. We meet people we’ve never known who welcome us into their homes at a spiritual family time. It changes us forever.
We know it’s difficult and emotional and draining and we see patients and families trying their best to do it right. And so they inspire us, with what they’ve taught us, to step into the next family that seeks our help and try to do it better each time. We thank these families for the time we’ve spent together.
Training sessions for people interested in becoming a hospice volunteer with Community Nurse & Hospice Care are held bi-annually. There is a special need for Portuguese speaking volunteers and those willing to visit in the Fall River area. The next session is happening over the next two weekends Saturday, March 2nd and Saturday, March 9th.
For more information and future training sessions, please contact Cecile Sanders, Volunteer Coordinator, by phone at (508) 717-0754 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.