Hospice volunteers bring great comfort to those in need. Those who volunteer for this special program have expressed that they feel they get back far more than they give.
Hospice volunteers serve as a companion for terminally ill people and their families in Clatsop County. The loving kindness of hospice volunteers complements the medical care provided by the physicians, nurses, physical therapists and massage therapists of Lower Columbia Hospice. The goal of the care team is to attend to the dying person as a whole — mind, body and spirit — so that they can pass through the stages of death in comfort and dignity.
One grateful family member wrote:
"Our family is very thankful for the caring concern of the hospice team. The comfort they gave us during the loss of a family member was so helpful and supportive. Thank you, Lower Columbia Hospice, for being with us!"
Our hospice volunteers are cherished members of the hospice team. Not only do they provide companionship and comfort to the patient, they also give each patient's family members some much-appreciated support and rest.
As a hospice volunteer, you might:
- Hold a hand.
- Give a hug.
- Read aloud.
- Play music.
- Make a sandwich.
- Chat and hear memories.
- Sit quietly.
- Feed the cat.
While these are simple acts, they are acts of kindness. In caring for a hospice patient and their family, you are giving them the gifts of time and compassion. Dawn Young, a hospice volunteer, said:
"There are many members of a hospice team. Each one contributes to making end-of-life care in our community special. I volunteer for hospice because I get to spend time with residents and their families at a challenging time in life. It makes me appreciate our human connectedness and brings into focus those qualities that really matter: connection, relationships and love."
Hospice volunteer Celia Davis has been on both sides of hospice care, first as a family member, then as a caregiver:
"As a hospice volunteer and a mother of two, I've observed that dying has similarities to birthing. Both are highly emotional times of transition where individuals have significant roles. Entering the world and leaving are both beautiful, trying, exhilarating and exhausting. Both can bring moments of intense sorrow and celebration. At either end of the spectrum, I remember thinking and feeling, as I did when I birthed my children and when I cared for dying parents, this experience is as real as it gets and I need to bring full attention and intention to the moment. My full self, intellectually, physically and emotionally, needs to step forward.
"I do a variety of volunteer work, but none is as deeply satisfying as hospice service. Family members and patients freely express their appreciation because for them, too, the filters are mostly or completely gone. An extended hand is unambiguously grasped. There is no doubt that in that moment, your very presence makes a difference.
"Both my parents died at home and we were assisted in their care by hospice teams. Losing someone is a difficult process; but the grief is lessened knowing that you gave your all. Hospice made that possible. I am forever grateful for the gift of hospice, both as a family member and as a volunteer."
Across the board, hospice volunteers say that they receive far more than they could ever give. Volunteer Allen Partridge encourages others to consider volunteering their time:
"If you have ever thought of volunteering with hospice, don't hesitate. My role has been as a visitor to patients in their homes. Helping people process the end of life is very important. Some patients are surrounded by family and loved ones, others have no one. My most rewarding experience as a hospice volunteer was visiting a person who had no one. We developed a true friendship over six months that I will never forget. Supporting people during this stage of life is the most fulfilling role you could ever play as a hospice volunteer — and it only takes an hour or two of your time per week. I encourage you to give it a try."
Becoming a hospice volunteer is very different than volunteering through the hospital auxiliary or serving as a volunteer in any other areas. Should you have an interest in learning more about becoming a Lower Columbia Hospice volunteer, please call our volunteer coordinator at 503.338.6230
Lower Columbia Hospice conducts an annual 20-hour hospice volunteer training program. We believe it is essential to invest in training and development of our valued hospice volunteers so that they are well prepared for their experience.
We sincerely hope that you will consider joining our hospice volunteers and we look forward to talking with you.