By Mary Duke, Hospice Volunteer

Nearly 30 years ago, when my father was in a Hospice facility, an unknown Hospice volunteer brought little bouquets of flowers to brighten the small kitchen table where our family often had meals when we visited Dad. Little did that person know that their thoughtfulness would plant the seeds for me to also share my love of gardening with many of my patients and other Hospice families over the many years that I have been a Hospice of the Panhandle volunteer. You see, in Hospice, it’s often the little things that make a huge difference in someone’s life when they are dealing with the possibility of loosing a loved one.

Hospice provides the opportunity for volunteers to share many of their unique talents with others. From working at the Inpatient Facility reception desk, providing organizational support, working with patients and their families, or assisting with bereavement support, there are so many opportunities to serve in Hospice.

In my 28 years of volunteering, I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful families as I have listened, held their hands, hugged their loved ones, took them for a drive or to an appointment, took the family some food or a bouquet of flowers, and provided respite for the caregiver by sitting with the patient or taking their children for an outing. At the Inpatient Facility, I have visited patients, played their favorite music on Pandora, walked with them or took them for a stroll outside in their geri chair, or sometimes I just sat quietly with the patient when the family could not be there with them. As an organizational support volunteer, I have helped with the Valentine’s Day cookie project, Light Up a Life luminary project and have performed clerical work. Now, I also serve on the fundraising committee. Another joy of mine is fixing seasonal arrangements for the reception desk at the Inpatient Facility. This offers another opportunity for me to help brighten the days of visitors, staff and other volunteers who work there. The opportunities to serve in Hospice are almost endless, and the staff is so willing to help you find your special niche to utilize your talents.

This is an excerpt from a thought-provoking quote a friend recently shared with me:

Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
We are all in “the line” without knowing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line -
Make moments count.
Make priorities.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.

Think about it...each day is a gift. Make a difference in someone’s day! Become a Hospice volunteer! Hospice volunteers are truly blessed in so many ways as they are a blessing to others!

A 14-hour course for those interested in working with patients and families is being offered on July 19 and 26, as well as Oct. 11 and 18. On July 19 and Oct. 11, Hospice 101, a 1Ω-hour introductory course, is being offered for those interested in volunteering at the Inpatient Facility, being a Hospice Helper, or being an organizational support volunteer. Hospice is looking especially for veteran volunteers to work with the veteran hospice patients.

For more information about any of these volunteer training dates, please contact Tricia Lawrence, volunteer services manager, at (304) 264-0406, ext. 1224, or tlawrence@hospiceotp.org.

Mary Duke has been a Hospice of the Panhandle volunteer for 28 years. She was the volunteer of the year in 1991. Hospice is a not-for-profit agency that has cared for patients and families with life-limiting illnesses in Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire and Jefferson counties since 1980. For more information on how hospice helps residents of the four-county area live more fully, call (304) 264-0406, or visit on-line at www.hospiceotp.org