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GILCHRIST

Healing Hearts and Communities

October 7, 2022, Volunteers

Healing Hearts and Communities

In honor of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, Jane O’Hara, Gilchrist Volunteer Services Recruitment Coordinator shares some reflection on the Volunteer program and why it’s so critical for the communities that we serve.

Each day I have the privilege of speaking with individuals from 16-90 years of age who want to accompany our patients in their final days. They come for a variety of reasons, but at the core, is someone who is other focused, sensitive, kind-hearted and a servant. When people come onto hospice service, I believe that they expect the medical help, but are pleasantly surprised by the personal support that accompanies the clinical care. Our volunteers devote their time and attention to enhancing the days of our patients and families.  Simply put, their goal is to be the highlight of someone’s day.  To that end, they engage in several initiatives for the sole purpose of bringing comfort, joy, honor and dignity to our families.  These initiatives include:

  • Pantry to Porch – Volunteers bring food to our food insecure families.  In addition, they either check in on them with caring calls or go inside to make a home visit.
  • Memory Bear – Families give us a cherished piece of clothing and that is turned into a stuffed animal.  If desired, we can also implant a recording of their loved one.
  • Caregiver Support Groups – We know that the end of life process is often just as challenging for the caregiver as for the patient.  Beginning in the new year, we will be leading 6-week support groups for caregivers with the intention of arming them with helpful tools.
  • End of Life Doula – These are seasoned volunteers who have at least one year of direct patient care service and advanced training.  They commit to accompanying the actively dying when the individual has no one to be present with them.
  • Pet Love – Our volunteers bring their certified dogs to sit in bed or at the bedside of patients, bringing them their unconditional love.
  • Tech Tutors – Assist individuals with their phones and computers, to better connect with others and access services in their home.
  • Legacy Journals – This is a life review where the volunteer journals the patient’s answers in a book which ultimately becomes a gift for the family.

In hospice, we often say that we cannot put more days in your life, but we can put more life in your days.  Through these programs I am proud to say that our volunteers help voices to be honored and hearts to be healed. 

To learn more about Gilchrist’s Volunteer program, visit gilchristcares.org/volunteers

To support our work, visit gilchristcares.org/giving.

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