The special work of Hospice Compassus, making the last months of life filled with comfort and tenderness, would not be possible without a dedicated group of volunteers.
Thirty-one men and women, both full-time and seasonal residents, work with the medical and other professionals at Hospice Compassus to ease the last of life’s journey for both patients and their families.
Between them, these volunteers have almost a century of experience in this very extraordinary field.
The staff of Hospice Compassus recently honored these volunteers with a luncheon catered by El Rancho Restaurant. Patty Kaufman, coordinator of the company’s volunteers, presented them with certificates.
The volunteer corps was just infused with a new class — five women who stepped up to be part of this amazing group: Polly Harman, Hanna Ingersoll, Lynn Cazalet, Elizabeth Youngberg and Shiranda Deerwoman.
Deerwoman talked about why she decided to become a hospice volunteer.
“I had approached hospice awhile back to offer to introduce reiki energy work to help with pain management,” she said.
She was allowed to do a staff in-service on the topic, but needed to be a trained volunteer before she could work with patients. So, she took the training, which was presented at the end of March.
While she has not been assigned any patients yet, she said she is available to those who request her special skills.
“The people who have been involved (in it), talk about how beautiful the process is,” she said, adding she thinks it would be an honor and privilege to help the soul make the journey back to the source.
Kathy Salvaggio is a longtime veteran volunteer with hospice. She has worked with the staff for 12 years.
“I thought it was something I could do and make myself useful,” she said of her reasons for becoming a volunteer.
She had no previous experience with the work of hospice, but has found it to be a good organization. “I wanted to be part of it,” she said. “It is such a privilege to be a help in someone else’s life — to give love and get more in return.”
Salvaggio said the relationships she has had with her patients have been some of the most loving she has ever experienced. “People who are sick are very open to love. It’s a blessing,” she said.
Pat Kennedy is a “toddler” volunteer — she has been with hospice about three years and is part of the clerical corps.
She said she is so impressed with the compassion everyone has for the sick and their families. She knows what a relief hospice workers and volunteers bring as she lost a daughter in an automobile accident and her daughter-in-law has had the benefit of hospice services for a family member.
While Kennedy is not ready to join the volunteers working with patients, she does have some contact with family members and she said the office staff is great.
“I love all the people here and have a lot of respect for what they do.”
Another “toddler” volunteer is Ida Lampert; she has worked with hospice a little more than three years.
She said she joined in order to give back to the community. From Germany, she said there was a time when all her family had either left the country or died and she found herself all alone and depressed. Being here for others now, she knows she can make a difference.