It’s been about a year that Bob Schieffer, of Markesan, has been serving as an Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope volunteer, but in just that short amount of time, he has found great reward.
Schieffer serves Hospice Hope patients and families through its Veterans Program and medication delivery.
The Hospice Hope Veterans Program provides a heartfelt thank you from a volunteer, like Schieffer, to a veteran for his/her service to our country. If the patient is willing and able, they are asked to speak about their service. Family members are welcome to participate in the conversation if it is welcomed by the patient. The volunteer will present the Blue Star Pin to the patient and explain its history. Along with the Blue Star Pin, the patient is given a patriotic lap quilt, made by hospice volunteers. This is followed by an optional brief prayer or moment of silence.
“It is so humbling when I am able to visit and honor a Veteran patient who is still alert and aware of the recognition/ceremony,” says Schieffer. “It is very rewarding to be able to get the Veteran to open up and share something about their service career that his/her family and friends have never heard before. There are times when the Veteran is not expecting to be recognized for his service. It is wonderful to see their faces light up and know they and their loved ones appreciate it. Their ‘thank you’ is also very regarding and appreciated.”
Those moments create lifelong memories for Schieffer.
“I still remember the day I went to recognize a younger Veteran,” he recalls. “I will not forget the way his wife welcomed me into their home. He was no longer able to verbalize anything at this point, but her presence during the ceremony will always stay with me.”
Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope has scheduled an upcoming orientation session for interested volunteers. What would Schieffer tell a potential volunteer considering this unique opportunity?
“Be yourself and go with the flow……every situation is different,” Schieffer says. “When you walk in the room, work with what you have. Try to make it as personal as possible for the patient and their family. Rather than having to plan the visit, allow the conversation to flow or not to flow. Be comfortable with silence. Being a hospice volunteer is about being there….it’s about being present.”
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 many wonderful opportunities for those interested in volunteering with Agnesian HealthCare’s Hospice Hope; include providing companionship and emotional support, assisting with respite and bereavement care, assisting with clerical duties and a variety of other patient and non-patient contact opportunities.
Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope provides and extensive training program designed to equip volunteers for the varied types of service. Hospice Hope in Fond du Lac and Green Lake areas are currently looking for more volunteers who are placed in their own geographic areas. Hospice Hope is currently in need of volunteers to help with companionship, pet therapy and veteran programs.
Being a hospice volunteer is a rewarding experience that allows individuals to share their gifts and talents, grow spiritually, learn new skills, belong to a caring team with a common goal, and much more.
The next Hospice Hope volunteer training session, consisting of one full day, has been scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, May 21 at Ripon Medical Center. Applications and interviews must be completed prior to the class.
Also, churches or service organizations interested in a presentation or introduction to hospice and its services can contact Hospice Hope.
For more information, call Betty Walleser, Hospice Hope volunteer coordinator, at (920) 294-6220 (Beatriz.Walleser@ssmhealth.com).
For information on hospice volunteer needs in the Fond du Lac area, contact Jennifer Stephens, Hospice Hope Fond du Lac volunteer coordinator, at (920) 924-4662 (Jennifer. Stephens1@ssmhealth.com).