The spirit of hospice volunteering stems from a desire to give comfort, peace and care to those facing a terminal illness, along with their caregivers and loved ones. In those precious end-of-life moments, hospice volunteers offer a level of companionship and support to patients and their families. From reading, taking walks, writing letters or simply serving as an ear to listen, volunteers touch the lives of our hospice patients every day.
Meet some of our Encompass Health hospice volunteers, and learn why those chose to help care for those facing a terminal illness:
Kimberley Brondeel – Dallas, Texas
What made you want to become a hospice volunteer?I have suffered some terrible losses throughout my life, including my father and aunt to cancer. However, my family has been a driving force in supporting me through these hardships. I’ve seen how heartbreaking terminal situations are for both patients and their loved ones, and I could never imagine going through it alone, and no one should ever have to.I wanted to make sure that I could be an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, and just be there as a person who they can feel cares about them, their feelings, their mindset, their physical health, and their all around quality of life, no matter what.
How has volunteering impacted your life? It has 100 percent changed how I view my life and the world in general. It has given me an unimaginable amount of gratitude for the small things in life, and the things that we often take for granted, learning how to appreciate how incredible it is that while I am going throughout my day, my heart is beating every second without my conscious thought. It has given me a perspective on my life and relationships, teaching me to appreciate each and every moment I have with the people I love, and to never take a second for granted making someone feel heard.
What is one of your favorite activities to do with your patient? My favorite activity with my patient would have to be using baby voices to talk to her cat, and watching and gossiping about our weekly Dr. Phil. These are things she enjoys doing, and I love seeing her smile!
Do you have a particular patient story that touched your heart? I have been seeing my same patient every week for almost two years now, and my favorite part of our visits has been watching her come out of her shell over time. I have truly forged a special place in my heart for her, and couldn’t imagine my week without seeing her beautiful face. Recently after chit chatting on the phone, we were working on hanging up and she said “love you!”, and it absolutely melted my heart. It might not sound like a big thing from the outside, but at that point I realized how comfortable and close we really have grown over the last couple years, and how different the quiet and reserved woman I met has become!
Eugene and Paulette Owens – Aiken, SC
What made you both want to become hospice volunteers? My husband and I became hospice volunteers because we felt the need to bring the comfort of presence to those that doctors could no longer help and to provide respite and support for their caregivers.
How has volunteering impacted your lives? Our lives have been impacted by hospice care because it has helped to enrich our church outreach ministry in which we’ve worked together for several years.
What is one of your favorite activities to do with your patients? Our favorite activity to do with patients is being able to engage in conversation, or activities that they may enjoy.
Do you have a particular patient story that touched your heart? Although we both feel that each of our patients have been worthy of a special story to be told, we had one patient we shared who was full of stories from years past. They were mostly ones we could laugh and smile about with her. She was as they say, “a hoot.”
Skyler Ford – Murray, Utah
What made you want to become a hospice volunteer? I wanted to give back to veterans and non veterans who might just need someone in their lives during their last bit on this earth.
How has volunteering impacted your life? I have made a friend unexpectedly. My patient is such a good person and it’s been so great to get to know them, and to create a friendship with them.
What is one of your favorite activities to do with your patient? So far the best thing we have done is we talk about each other’s families and they are excited to meet my new daughter in a few weeks.
Do you have a particular patient story that touched your heart? My patient was able to meet his sister that he never knew existed for his entire life. It was so special to see him light up when he showed me the pictures of them welcoming him into his new family. It is bittersweet since his life is ending, but it was amazing to find out that he found such a large part of his life that had been missing.