Lil Sears - hospice volunteer - plays vital role in end-of-life care, next training date set

Shelly Haberman

  For the past three years, Lil Sears, of Green Lake, has been providing companionship to patients and families being served by Agnesian HealthCare’s Hospice Hope program. She also helps by making medication deliveries as needed and attending 11th hour vigils.

Sears has been so engaged in her volunteer efforts with Hospice Hope that she frequently offers a gentle note of encouragement to others who consider following in her footsteps.

“A lot of people think it is wonderful when I tell them I am a hospice volunteer, but feel they can’t do it,” Sears says. “If you are being called to do this volunteer work, I advise not to have too many expectations. Think of it as going to visit grandpa and grandma. Remember you will be there to enjoy the patient‘s company, as much as, the patient enjoys yours. Take each visit as a new start and let it surprise you.”

Hospice Hope offices in Fond du Lac and Green Lake office are currently looking for more volunteers to assist patients and their families. Volunteers are placed in their own geographic areas. Hospice Hope is currently in need of volunteers to help with companionship, pet therapy, veteran program and non-direct patient care.

“I enjoy the interaction with the patients,” Sears explains. “I find it fascinating to discover where they are in their life journey and what their interests are. Based on what I learn about them, I can read, sing, converse, and/or listen to them, so I can do what they enjoy the most during our times together. I always try not to do anything that may irritate them. I can also initiate conversation based on their life story.”

One of Sears’ most memorable moments came during an 11th hour vigil, where volunteers provide additional presence and emotional support to patient and/or family during the last 24 to 48 hours of a patient’s end-of-life journey.

“Once during an 11th hour vigil assignment, the patient’s son - a young man - wanted to be there with his father but was having a difficult time,” Sears remembers. “I asked him if he wanted a hug and he said yes. I went ahead and read scripture to the patient for a while.  Afterwards I had the desire to pray, so I asked for his permission to do so. At these times, I always put my hand on the patient’s forehead, as I was ready to pray, his son asked me if he could also put his hand on his father’s forehead. He did and we prayed together. It was a neat experience.”

Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope provides an extensive training program designed to equip volunteers for the varied types of service.

The next training session is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, September 20 at Ripon Medical Center, 845 Parkside Street in Ripon. Application and interview must be completed prior to the class.

For more information, call Betty Walleser, Hospice Hope volunteer coordinator, at (920) 294-6220 (

Hospice offers a supportive, palliative (comfort versus cure) and compassionate care program to patients who have a life-threatening illness, and do not want, or cannot proceed with, aggressive curative treatment. Hospice Hope care offers a team of caring people trained to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of patients who have a limited life expectancy, as well as the needs of their families and caregivers. There are as many volunteer opportunities as there are individual preferences for service!

If you have the desire to help others, the willingness to share your time and talents, want to grow personally, and give something back to your community, consider becoming an Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope volunteer.

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