What does it look like to volunteer for hospice? At Agape, the experience is as varied as the personalities, history and interests of each patient and volunteer (who are paired in Match.com fashion). Desiree, who’s volunteered with Agape for six years, describes her experience:
I felt that there was an incredible connection and subtle communication between the two of us. This individual was my biggest challenge in a lot of ways, but at the same time, my greatest teacher in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.
I became a hospice volunteer after completing various seminars on death and dying, which I found fascinating. Soon after, I heard of a training volunteer course at Agape Hospice. This experience of service has turned into a gift of life which constantly offers me many wonderful lessons, not only about the different journeys people go through at the end of their lives, but also – and most importantly – about life itself. It has mainly taught me how to be present with an open heart and an open mind. Not only has this experience been a real privilege, but it also has been incredibly humbling.
Many years ago, I had to choose between Agape and another hospice group. I am so happy that I chose Agape Hospice not only because of their excellent reputation and their caring and compassionate service, but also for their very strong and supportive volunteer and professional program.
All the people I’ve had the honor to serve have been unique and lovely. However, there was one woman who will always live in my heart. We were “friends” for over three years. She suffered from a debilitating disease, which had left her bedridden with very limited mental and physical abilities. For me, it was very challenging to learn about this disease, and it was tough to figure out whether she would be listening to what I had to say. A lot of times, silence was just what we needed in order to communicate.
I visited her once a week in the nursing facility for most of those three years. I talked to her about my daily life while I gently massaged her beautiful hands. A few months before she crossed the light, I brought headphones and music for her to enjoy, and she absolutely loved it. I felt that there was an incredible connection and subtle communication between the two of us. This individual was my biggest challenge in a lot of ways, but at the same time, my greatest teacher in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. I am so grateful for this humbling experience.
It has been an honor to be part of the Agape Hospice team because of the sense of purpose and the sense of community that it provides. I am constantly learning from our team managers and all the volunteers about what compassion and caring really mean.
This Volunteer Appreciation week, we are so grateful for Desiree and all our vibrant,
dedicated volunteers–and the beautiful ways they touch lives!