Leading hospice volunteers is not just our job; it is our passion. For me, it is essential to approach this very important work with passion – both for the reasons for which volunteers are needed, and especially for the gift that volunteers bring. Thankfully, this is a very easy task, because undoubtedly we find – over and over again – that our lives are enriched by working with an awesome teams of volunteers. Secondly, I’m encouraged to remember that those who commit to being a hospice volunteer are stating that they are willing to serve, without pay, to improve the quality of life for others. And it is our privilege and responsibility, as leaders of volunteers, to come alongside these willing individuals with the passion and commitment they deserve.
Think about the gift! Hospice volunteers have said – either to themselves or to us – that they are willing to walk with others on their end-of-life journey. They are friendly visitors, holding the hand of a patient in a skilled nursing facility. They are envelope stuffers, assuring that those who are grieving receive valuable resources and support. They are errand runners, picking up groceries for family members who just don’t have time to get away. They are support group assistants, sharing their own walk of grief with others in a healthy way which helps them to navigate their own journey. They are phone connections, assuring families that needed services and supplies are available exactly when and how needed. They are fundraisers, championing your organization to have funds available to meet benevolent needs of patients and families. They are vigil keepers, believing that no one should die alone and being there, day or night, simply to be a presence. They are Veterans, committed to honoring those at end of life who have served our country and protected our freedoms. They are teenagers. They are retired. They are working people with very busy lives. They are all of this and more. They are givers – of time, of passion, of self.
To those of us who are leaders of volunteers – may we enjoy each and every day of our work, and recognize our work as the valued profession that it is. Let us take time every day to thank a volunteer, to encourage them in their work. There is great joy in the successful leadership of volunteers. There is great joy in paving the way for others to be able to give from their hearts to those who are at end of life. I am blessed… we are blessed!
Leanne Porterfield, CVA is Coordinator of Volunteers at Homeland Hospice in Harrisburg, PA.
April 10 – 16, 2016 is National Volunteer Week in the U.S., a time to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of all volunteers.