By Ruth Bradley
Hospice of the Panhandle volunteer
Words that come to mind are fulfilling, rewarding, and fun. I have been a volunteer with Hospice of the Panhandle for almost 10 years. It is my heart happy place as I honor my mother and her strong beliefs every time I walk into the building. I feel her as I pin on my name badge and smile. The projects I am involved with are interesting, appreciated, and relate to the mission of Hospice of the Panhandle. The saying it takes a village holds true for Hospice and I truly love being a part of this wonderful village.
I credit my mother and my faith for guiding me to a life of volunteering after retirement. She molded me into the person I am. She taught me many life lessons such as: focus on the positives; be thankful for all that you have; work hard; and never pass an opportunity to give back or pay forward. She actively volunteered until her health prevented her to do so at the age of 92. She was an incredible role model and I was so blessed to have her until she was called home at age 95.
When my mom’s health started to decline, I was overwhelmed with ensuring she received the medical care she needed. The thought of her having to leave her friends and apartment she had called home for over 20 years saddened me. During a conversation one day, while volunteering at Hospice of the Panhandle, a staff member asked if I had considered contacting Hospice in the Winchester area. I felt a bit embarrassed because like most, I thought of Hospice as end-of-life days and clearly my mom was not there yet. I had not taken the time to thoroughly educate myself on the acceptance criteria for Hospice care – shame on me.
Entering mom into the Hospice program was an incredible blessing. She loved her health care team and frequently told me the members of that team made her feel so special. Her infectious smile was so evident on the days Hospice visited. In addition to her health care team, she enjoyed the company of Hospice volunteers and music therapy. I no longer worried because I knew her health care was being addressed adequately.
We were blessed to have Hospice for 13 months while mom stayed in her comfortable apartment and enjoyed her treasured family and friends. Three days before her passing she was admitted to the Hospice inpatient unit. Hospice was always there for us especially during her final hours. It is never easy to say that final goodbye but Hospice made even that very peaceful.
My mom was my mentor, my rock, and my best friend. I was able to enjoy her life a bit longer thanks to Hospice. For that I will always be thankful. I will continue to honor her legacy by being a volunteer for this wonderful organization called Hospice of the Panhandle. I encourage all who are reading this to educate yourself on Hospice and what this organization can do for you. And if you can, volunteer…it is so rewarding.
In recognition of National Volunteer Month, Ruth Bradley has shared her Hospice story. She has been a dedicated Hospice of the Panhandle volunteer for 10 years. To learn more about becoming a Hospice volunteer, contact Volunteer Services Coordinator Katrina Stevens at (304) 264-0406, ext. 1227, or firstname.lastname@example.org