She just smiles when she sees me! That is the greatest thing. When I arrive for a visit with my Client and she greets me with a smile from ear to ear, that is my big reward. Sometimes, I just hold her hand, and that makes all the difference I need to make. Volunteering in hospice care has really changed my mindset. I love learning about different medical conditions and treatments. I worked in a hospital for many years, in finance and admin, now I feel like I am really part of the treatment and what helps keep my Clients going. Sometimes, even when it seems like there is “no hope” I can provide some emotional support. I have also learned a lot about Bangladesh from my present Client. She has trouble speaking now but we still manage to communicate, we watch Bangladeshi television, cooking shows or read. She puts a lot of trust in me. I also feel like I am supporting her family too. They know their Mom and wife is being cared for and respected. I know they appreciate me. Volunteering makes me stronger, and makes them stronger. It used to take me 2 hours to get to her by Wheel Trans, but it is worth every minute. When I go home I am tired but I feel good, and I know I have made her happy.
A lot of what I do as a hospice volunteer I do alone, so I really love the Caring and Sharing meetings. We get together once a month and share suggestions, support each other, learn about what is going on at Better Living, learn about other support systems for our Clients, and get time with Catherine (our Social Work Case Manager). For the first ten years I felt like a rookie. I took all of the training I could. I feel a lot more confident now, but every Client is different. I’ve always been a strong woman. I accept what I have. I accept what I can do. I won’t be negative. As an only child I was raised to be independent, and know who I am. Volunteering is my calling. I retired, in part because of my health, but also so I could do more volunteer work in the community. I have more flexibility with my schedule now, and am using my mind in new and different ways. One of the best things about volunteering is that there is always something different. I feel really comfortable at Better Living and know the people here. It is free and it is useful! The best part is, that my mind is on the other person and not on myself.