Area hospice program calling for volunteers expertise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 5, 2002

November is National Hospice Month, and Heartland Home Health & Hospice at 98 Kilby Shores Dr., doesn’t want to let the month slip by without informing the public that it is in need of volunteers.

Volunteers are the heart of the Hospice Team, and Heartland depends on its volunteers to help them provide the extra love and care that their clients and their families need at this time in their lives.

Hospice care is provided to patients not only in private homes but also in nursing homes, assisted living/retirement homes or anywhere the patient calls home.

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Afryea Brown, the volunteer program coordinator at Heartland since July, said there is also a need for clerical workers within the office.

Brown has a master’s degree in social work and prior to her present position she worked as a social worker in nursing homes.

&uot;We are in need of caring, committed volunteers in Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton counties,&uot; said Brown. &uot;All of our volunteers complete a 12-hour training course that allows them to offer support, companionship, caregiver relief and practical caring help to Hospice patients and their families.&uot; She also said that at Heartland a volunteer can donate as much or as little as of your time that he or she wants.

Mary Stallings, a Suffolk resident, is a volunteer and visits patients in the Suffolk area about once a week. She gets great satisfaction from doing so.

&uot;I love people and a lot of my family were in nursing homes,&uot; said Stallings. &uot;They are now deceased but the workers in the homes were so good to my parents that I just want to give back something that was given to them. I never get depressed as a volunteer. When they feel sick, I just pray along with them and read to them. If they want something, I try to get it for them. I may not see them a lot but if I have an hour or two that I can spare, I visit patients.&uot;

&uot;I am appealing to every woman, man and teenager to be a volunteer if they have time to spare because older patients really take to teenagers and we also need men volunteers as well as women,&uot; she said.

As a Hospice volunteer, you will be oriented to the Hospice program so you can understand the philosophy and goals. This will enable you to have the skills needed to assist patients and their families. You will not be asked to become a family counselor, just a non-judgmental listener and friend.

As a volunteer you will also love the sense of self-satisfaction you will receive from bringing special pleasure to someone’s life, and you will enjoy learning from the vast experience and colorful life of patients and their families.

As a Heartland Hospice volunteer, you can donate as much or as little of your time as you desire. The duties of volunteers are varied. This flexibility allows you to find an area of service that uniquely is suited to you as well as provide you with the greatest personal satisfaction. You may want to suggest talents you would like to share whether it’s running errands, staying with the patient so family members can take a break, reading to patients, or holding their hands; the help and support you give is returned to them in countless ways.

&uot;Our volunteers tell us that whenever they volunteer at Hospice, they learn new skills and expand their knowledge and experience. We invite you to consider becoming a Hospice volunteer. If you are a member of a special interest group – a choir, drama club, garden club, etc. you may want to volunteer your group for a special project or activity,&uot; said Brown.

In conjunction with the Bereavement coordinator at Heartland these Bereavement volunteers offer support to families, via telephone, after their loved one has passed away. Bereavement support is received for up to 13 months after the patient has passed away.

&uot;Heartland is also committed to community education on the services our agency provides and would be available to speak to groups, congregations and other organizations,&uot; said Brown.