PLYMOUTH — With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering reach not to just the volunteer, but also to family members and the community. The right match can help reduce stress, find friends, learn new skills, and even advance a career. Pemi-Baker Community Health is offering a free Hospice volunteer training in June.
While it’s true that the more someone volunteers, the more benefits they will experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a large amount of time out. Most of Pemi-Baker’s volunteers give two or three hours a few times a month.
Pemi-Baker Community Health offers many avenues for volunteering. Many volunteers help with Hospice patients in the community. Wendy Lund, one of PBCH’s volunteers, visits with Brian Paris when his wife Nancy needs to run errands. Lund reads to Brian or enjoys birdwatching over coffee.
Other volunteers with Pemi-Baker Community Health sing and play instruments, or visit with their therapy dogs. Resa Cirrincione recently shared a volunteer moment that was very heartwarming. “When I was a hospice volunteer I would ask permission to bring my small Sheltie, Honey, my therapy dog. Everyone always said 'yes' and they loved her. She was so good with the patients. She would sit on their laps or lie next to them in the bed and let them snuggle or pet her fur and pat her head. She knew what they needed and she always gave unconditional love. One day I heard one of my former hospice patients, John, was not doing well, so I brought Honey over for a visit. John’s son was there and John was sleeping in his recliner. I called his name and touched his hand, but there was no response. John’s son explained that he didn’t wake up much anymore. I scooped Honey up and gently put her in John’s lap. Immediately his arms went around her and he hugged her close to his chest without opening his eyes. He knew she was there. Honey lay very still and then softly licked his hand, nestled her head against his chest and just rested there with him. When John’s arms relaxed and we knew he had fallen into a deep sleep, I put Honey on the floor and she lay at the side of his chair until it was time to go. We heard later that John passed that night, and I was so grateful that Honey had brought him some comfort one last time.”
Pemi-Baker is offering a free Hospice Volunteer Training Program this summer.Classes will be held Tuesday afternoons 2-4 p.m., through July 2. Visit www.pbhha.org for more information, or contact Lisa Fortson, MSW, Hospice and Palliative Care supervisor, to register.