Teaching The Art of Living and Dying Well

by Deborah Gambill

Giving from the heart is what our volunteers at Alternative Hospice do best. The end of a life signifies much change for patients and their families. When fear, depression, and a sense of hopelessness are at hand, the kind-hearted volunteers step in as a part of the team to help prepare and shift the family’s focus toward acceptance of a death and celebration of a life. Sometimes a family’s needs are many and resources seem to be few. The volunteer program’s “people resources” are much valued -extensions of services when a family decides to opt for hospice at Alternative.

The Alternative approach keys in to holistic avenues while fulfilling their mission: Teaching The Art of Living and Dying Well.

Lisa Brynac, Alternative’s volunteer coordinator since the program’s inception in 2006 states that: “Our volunteers have ordinary hands and extraordinary hearts.” “Lisa B.” and Diane Hunstein job share responsibility for recruiting and training volunteers and matching them with patients and families. Each volunteer is carefully educated about special aspects of hospice prior to their first visit. Lisa continues, “It is a blessing to connect our volunteers with our patients and caregivers. Our families are very grateful for all the extra support given by our volunteers.” Volunteers do not have to have a specialized background to offer to spend time with patients–a soothing touch and listening ear are often enough. Kindness is the fundamental requirement.

But, because complementary therapies are integral to patient treatment at Alternative Hospice, some of the volunteers are signified as complementary care volunteers. Among them are professional massage therapists, aromatherapists, reflexologists and others. They provide even more consistency of care for “hands on” compassionate touch and the special, kind healing presence that helps the patient and family have quality of life near a life’s end.

Katie, a hospice volunteer writes: I find it a privilege to be with families and their loved ones during their (end of life) journey and helping make a difference. Sometimes we receive information from a patient that they have been afraid to share with their family or other staff. By sharing this with other members of the hospice team, we are able to help better meet each patient’s needs.”
Volunteer opportunities are as individual as you are. We invite you to share in the gifts.
To volunteer, please contact Lisa Brynac at 636-343-3839 or through the website at www.alternativehospice.com.

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