Hospice Volunteer Celebrated for 10 Years of Service
As we discussed in our last post, April is National Volunteer Month, and your local hospice organization needs volunteers – just like you – to help accomplish their important work. A few days ago we ran across this profile of a Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania woman who was recently honored for over 10 years of volunteering at her local hospice. Her story serves as a great example of what hospice volunteerism looks like and the real benefits it provides to both the patients and the organization.
A Weekly Routine of Giving Back
Rosanne Szymanski works as a bookkeeper but still manages to volunteer with her local hospice for several hours each week. For Rosanne, the desire to serve in this capacity came after her own father died. “We had hospice volunteers come to the home,” she said. “They were very compassionate.”
After completing volunteer training, Rosanne began spending time with hospice patients doing simple activities together or simply talking. Part of Rosanne’s training involves looking for signs of abuse or other changes in a patient’s physical or mental condition. So during her visits she’s always on the lookout for issues she should report to the patient doctors or nurses. So in addition to providing much-needed companionship, Rosanne also watches closely over the patient’s well-being. “I see myself as an advocate for the patients,” Szymanski says.
Of course, this work does come with a bit of sadness. After all, hospice centers around death and when you’ve come to befriend a hospice patient, it’s natural to feel grief and loss when they finally pass. “They become like a grandfather or grandmother,” she said. “Some days it does bring a tear to my eyes.” But Rosanne has dealt with loss in her day, losing both her husband and a brother at a very young age. “You can’t dig a hole and hide,” she said about grieving for a loved one. “You have to find strength and live.”
Rosanne also uses her 10 years of experience to lead a support group that helps other hospice volunteers cope with patient death. And in the end, it’s this work that could have the most lasting impact because it will help more volunteers serve hospice patients for longer.
Every Volunteer Experience is Different
Of course, not every volunteer experience will be as hands-on or as long-lasting as Rosanne’s. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be any less meaningful. It requires a lot of work to serve patients and their families during end-of-life transitions. And it just wouldn’t be possible to give all of them the attention they deserve without the dedicated help of our volunteers. And while hospices are always looking for volunteers to spend time with their patients, not everyone will be comfortable with that kind of work. You can also make a tremendous impact working behind the scenes. And most hospices would be happy to have your help in just about any capacity.
Live in Phoenix? Volunteer at Southland Hospice
If you live in or around Phoenix and would like to learn more about hospice volunteering, we’d love to talk. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call anytime at (602)-497-4100. Providing much-needed support for dying patients and their families is important work. And though it may be difficult at times, stories like Rosanne Szymanski’s show how much good this kind of selfless giving can really do in the world.