Hospice of the Foothills volunteers bring comfort, love and respect | TheUnion.com

Hospice of the Foothills volunteers bring comfort, love and respect

Special to The Union

Did you know that April 21-27 is National Volunteer Week? Hospice of the Foothills is honoring its core of dedicated volunteers who provide support, companionship and dignity to members of the community facing serious and life-limiting illness.

"We could not do the work we do without the gifts of time and talent from our hospice volunteers who support our organization and come along patients," said Vanessa Bengston, executive director of Hospice of the Foothills.

Many Hospice of the Foothills volunteers are inspired to help others and support our patients and families because of their own experiences with the compassionate care hospice provided to a dying loved one. Many who are unfamiliar with hospice care assume that this volunteer work would take place in a setting of sadness and despair. Hospice of the Foothills volunteers tell a different story — how time that they spend with those who need it most can be filled with hope, dignity, and love. Hospice of the Foothills volunteers help the people they serve live every moment of life to the fullest.

Cynthia Meilicke, Allied Services Supervisor at Hospice of the Foothills, welcomed 16 new volunteers that are attending the Hospice of the Foothills Direct Patient Care training this month.

"We are fortunate to have such caring individuals step forward and make a commitment to serve in capacities that feel like a natural fit with our volunteers' interests," she said. "We are celebrating our volunteers at a special luncheon this year on April 24. Hospice volunteers often serve patients and families at the bedside but they also assist in the office, help raise awareness, contribute to educational programs, and provide fundraising support and more."

Lisa Knudson is a direct patient care volunteer who has participated in the bereavement and spiritual care volunteer trainings. She provides weekly spiritual care in Hospice of the Foothills Compassionate Care Home. She had a recent experience that made a lasting impression on her commitment to compassionate care for everyone.

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"I visited a gentleman who lost his wife over a year ago and has been struggling ever since, trying to figure out why he is still living," Knudson said. "When I told him I was a spiritual care volunteer, he grabbed my hand and asked me if I would pray with him. After hearing his story, I did pray for him and then he prayed after me. His last words to me were, 'Please, don't take this the wrong way, but I hope I don't see you next week.' He clearly had peace about dying, because he was able to share his strong faith in God. This man passed away one week later. I am blessed to have known him and to have had the privilege of spending time listening to and praying with him, just shortly before his passing."

In 2012, Hospice of the Foothills had 458 volunteers that contributed over 33,500 hours of their time. It is federally mandated under Medicare that five percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers. This regulation reflects the vital role that volunteers play in the hospice philosophy of care and ensures that a hospice program has roots deep in the community.

You can learn more about volunteer opportunities at Hospice of the Foothills by contacting Janis Lewis, volunteer coordinator at 530-272-5739. Hospice of the Foothills offers volunteer training in the spring and fall of every year. If you are interested in helping out at our Gift and Thrift stores, call Brian Berry at 530-265-6500. Becoming a member of Friends of Hospice is another way to support the mission of Hospice of the Foothills. For more information on Friends of Hospice, call 530-274-5121. During National Volunteer Week, take time to learn more about volunteering opportunities in your community and ways you can support the important work being done by your local community based Hospice of the Foothills. Visit http://www.hofo.org for more information about Hospice of the Foothills and the variety of ways to support its vital programs and services.

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