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Blog: Stories and Insight

What Volunteers Are Saying About Hospice Volunteering

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Week, we asked our volunteers to tell us their thoughts on volunteering.  Needless to say, we weren’t surprised by the outpouring of love and the level of joy they feel as they support Samaritan’s mission of service. Our volunteers have big hearts and generous spirits. We greatly appreciate their time and talent!

When I became a volunteer, I was looking for a helpful, productive way to use my free time. Little did I know, I would be getting back much more than I felt I was giving.  I am so grateful for my Samaritan friends and the experiences I have with all of you. – Marlene

Hospice care and especially Samaritan flows through my veins. A gift we give to our fellow man/women is to care, and in doing so we receive a greater gift in return. I continue doing what I can because I feel that is what God wants me to do. – Judy

I’ve been so lucky throughout my life.  All of us are at some point are in the difficult transition between living and dying.  If I can in small way make this transition easier for the individuals and their families it is a worthy endeavor. Being involved in that transition enriches my life as well.  The experiences shared with those families and loved ones are more lasting and vivid than anything found in a textbook. – Chuck

Due to Covid-19, I really miss visiting hospice patients.  I miss conversing, helping, and doing whatever is needed for my patients and families.  I am looking forward to the day when I can safely visit again.  When this day comes, a big smile will be on my face.  – Susan

I miss the interaction with people and developing a friendship with those going through this difficult time.  I am looking for it to continue as I have missed hearing the stories of these people who have lived wonderful lives.  It is always sad to lose them but I hope I have given them as much as they have given me. – Paul

I became a volunteer because I want to help others. I enjoy the feeling I get when I see I seem to make someone else’s day better and brighter. I want to continue the feeling of making a difference in someone’s life because ending my day in prayer and thanking God that I made someone else’s day is a wonderful blessing of me doing the work that I’ve been called to do.  – Pamela

My thoughts on volunteering.  Although I have not been an active volunteer since the pandemic started, I was, up to that point, a very active volunteer. I learned early on in my life from my mother who was a dyed in the wool volunteer that that is part of being a helpful person.  So, basically, I have since starting life after college, been an active volunteer.  I have especially enjoyed my years of volunteering at the Samaritan Thrift shop and the opportunity to work with so many people who think the way I do about helping others while we support such a great organization as SAMARITAN.  – Judith

Over the course of my work career, I often heard about the good work that Samaritan was doing and how families were so appreciative of the Samaritan staff.   For years I frequently thought if I were able to retire, I would volunteer at Samaritan.    When I was graced with time from retirement, I decided to volunteer at Samaritan.  I derive satisfaction from helping others at such a difficult time.  Even the slightest gestures of kindness can make a huge difference to others. Just helping even one person with a kind word, gesture, or smile has its rewards, and I’m thankful I’ve had that opportunity. – Michele

I became a volunteer with Samaritan because I believe Hospice is a wonderful support to families of people at the end of life. I was a nurse in a children’s hospital for 20 years and worked with many families of dying children. Hospice was unavailable for them at that time, and their families would have greatly benefited from that support.  I feel appreciated for the time I spend with clients, giving family members time to take care of themselves and go on errands. I also enjoyed meeting visitors at the Samaritan Center and showing them to the rooms of the clients there. I hope to be able to do both things again someday. Meanwhile, I sew items that might help clients with dementia.  – Peggy

I love volunteering at the Thrift Shop. It gives me opportunity to share how wonderful Samaritan Hospice is  and the great care they took of my husband and father. The staff at Samaritan makes their volunteers feel very appreciated and that makes me want to give back my best.  – Lorraine

To reach out…providing service to others enriches my life.  Theresa

I became a volunteer for Samaritan after I retired from the bank in 2010.  I was greeted by Samaritan staff with such warmth and love as if I had known the staff all my life. I knew I was at the right organization. Samaritan is my extended family.  In my first year with Samaritan, I did in home care. After that, my husband needed more care so, Sharon Wenner asked me if I would be interested in mailing out their grief and support cards.  I immediately said YES!. I was so grateful because this allow my husband to help as well.  I am very happy to say, even though we are in a pandemic, I will be glad to come back to Samaritan to continue mailing out the grief and support cards.  – Renee

When I began volunteering at Samaritan (16 [??] years ago?) my intention was to GIVE –  give some of my time and caring to people who were going through a difficult time in their lives. My mother had been a caregiver and was so grateful for the time and freedom that volunteer visits provided for her that I was motivated to provide the same for Samaritan’s patients and their families. Soon I realized that my “giving” was more than reciprocated by “getting.” The love, support, kindness, appreciation and friendship that have flowed back to me have vastly outweighed anything that I have given. Thank you, Samaritan friends and family. – Peggy

Giving back and finding time in my schedule to help others brings deep joy and satisfaction to my life.  I love the challenge of trying to find ways to connect w a stranger. I adore older adults and learning about “their story.”  It is sooooo vital to feel someone is interested in you and values your time and words.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to be that person for an older adult.  I am pleased to assure no one transitions alone if that is a concern for the patient or family. It is a sacred moment and I am exceedingly grateful to have an opportunity to sit beside someone on that journey.  To represent this amazing hospice agency with a closing connection, is an honor in Itself. For those who answer my call, it is a gift for me to b the stranger’s voice who cares enough to check in and is willing to listen to their journey through grief.  And, if necessary, share an array of supports which may b able to assist them in  moving on with their life. I am a long time advocate of the hospice model and comfortable with the belief that dying is part of living life.  As you can hear, I get so much more than I give by being a volunteer for Samaritan.  Thank YOU!  M.C.

I enjoy volunteering with Samaritan because I appreciate it’s value. I know how you helped me, but every month, when I make my bereavement calls, people so frequently say how helpful we were to them. I always explain that I am a volunteer and that I feel the same way. You really make a difference and the care Samaritan offers is genuine. It felt good to sit with patients who should never be diminished, as well as their care givers who just need to be able to take a breath and know that someone empathizes with what they are going through. I didn’t get to do that part very long due to Covid, but caring just feels good. What appears to be a selfless act is actually quite selfish.   – Barb

I love to help people.  It surely makes me feel good.  -Pat

I enjoy volunteering because I Love seeing my client face light up when they see me, even when they have memory issues. I love my clients!! And I miss them. – Shelley

I am a bereavement volunteer because it’s something everyone goes through eventually in their lives. I feel I am good at it because many years ago I took a course on active listening which teaches you to be non judgmental. Another reason is because Samaritan is such a wonderful organization to work for.   – Harriet

I am very happy and find doing this work for Samaritan has changed me in a way that I am appreciative in the work we do.  Also I love working at the shop and hope to get back to it real soon.  Thanks  – Gilda

Volunteering seemed like a wonderful way to be around people.  – Vince

Being a volunteer has been more rewarding than I ever imagined.  I took the training to do home visits, but also was asked and accepted to do Transition calls.  Doing home visits is wonderful.  I’ve met so many different people, both patients and caregivers and families over the eight years I’ve been volunteering and have had many wonderful experiences.  Thinking about just a few – Shirley thinking I was her late husband and sitting with her holding hands; Sylva who got extremely anxious when she was turned in bed and stroking her hair and cheek to calm her down and having her lay her head in my hand a kissing it; talking with the patients who were still communicative about their lives; and, while each patient has been special, my Jerry will always be top of the list.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and we had so much fun talking and laughing.  I especially remember him wanting to attend a senior center Christmas lunch and he couldn’t go because he didn’t drive anymore.  I told him that no matter what, he was going to that lunch (this was back when we could still take patients out).  Got Jerry to the center, got his lunch for him from the buffet and just enjoyed sitting with him and watching his enjoyment being back with friends he hadn’t seen for a long time.  As a bonus, I won a poinsettia plant for being the youngest person at our table!  Jerry was so appreciative and thanked me over and over; it was a special day for me and I will always remember it.  I’ve said many times, Samaritan has done more for me than I think I’ve done for them.  Each patient is special in their own way and I have fond memories.  Volunteering makes me feel useful and having been a caregiver I know what having a few hours just for yourself means. – John

I don’t have a good answer as to why I want to be a hospice volunteer.  I just know it was something I needed and wanted to do as soon as I retired.  To sit quietly next to someone who wants to share their life’s stories, to be a quiet witness as they make their final passage, all  seemed to me to be something I could actually do to bring comfort. I am so grateful ????  for the opportunity to be part of the Samaritan family.  – Sue

I have been blessed with an abundance of gifts, which I freely share.  I am filled with joy knowing that I can help others in need, and truly make a difference.  -Ann

I am the youngest of 7 children.  When our sister Ann Marie was diagnosed with cancer at age 50 all of her siblings helped to care for her.  After she died at 51 my sister Connie said that south Jersey needed a hospice.  She was instrumental in helping to start Samaritan. This in turn lead me to work for Samaritan for 22 years. After I retired I missed the patients so I started to volunteer.  Always a gift to be able to help others in need.  – Terrie

I have done many aspects of volunteer for many years. I have also felt so satisfied visiting the clients knowing that I am helping family members get a little break but also meeting such strong willed and positive patients. What a great lesson I have learned from them. Making condolence calls have allowed family members to talk about their loved ones and what love they had for them. I have also meet so many dedicated employees and other volunteers who have become friends over the years. I look forward to continuing this work as long as possible. – Mary

When I retired I finally had time to do some volunteer work to benefit the community. My mother was a long time volunteer at her community hospital and benefitted greatly from in home palliative care before she passed away. When I was looking for the right opportunity, Samaritan was perfect for me, helping out with different tasks to free up the dedicated staff to help families and patients at a very difficult time of their lives.  I look forward to the day I can return and do my bit to support Samaritan’s mission.  – Jennifer

I became a volunteer about 10 years ago when I retired as an RN. I missed the human side of nursing and wanted to find a way to help support patients and families in their health journeys.  – Nancy

Samaritan walked my family through a very difficult and unexpected season. As a young Mom, they helped me navigate through caring and saying goodbye to my mom. Thanks to the emotional and spiritual guidance- there was nothing left unsaid between us and that continues to be such a gift to me. My Mom was cared for with dignity and the utmost respect. It’s an honor to be a very small part of paying that forward.  – Trish

My mother taught us to understand and realize how blessed we were.  She taught us to give back and our blessings would exceed our giving.  It’s true.  I will celebrate my 76th birthday tomorrow.  I don’t complain because there is an alternative to long life.  I am able, even during this Pandemic to be a blessing to people.  I volunteer because I realize, but for the Grace of God, I could be a victim of great needs.  The joy I receive in giving is fulfilling. – Gwen

The reason I became a volunteer is due to the lessons of my parents; share what you have with others who need it.  I have time.  I have an amazing dog, Django. There are so many people who need time with someone and some who need the comfort of a kind and loving pet or both.  Sharing my time and pup, Django, is part of what makes me, me.  It’s part of my fabric woven by my parents.  Volunteering feels right.  As a pet therapy volunteer, I have the opportunity to witness an amazing connection between Django and anyone he meets and greets.  Some folks may be going through a tough time, a challenging day, or feeling uncertainty and then Django steps into their space, and warms their hearts.  In that moment, their challenges and burdens lessen, just a bit.  Django brings so much joy and smiles to all he meets.  To be witness to those moments is such a gift and it is what drives me to continue volunteering, giving.  If we made just one person feel the goodness around them in that day, we go home knowing we did our work.  It is what makes us human. Django and I are so grateful to be part of the Samaritan family. -Maria

Having spent time with a few people while each was terminally ill, I realized I was comfortable in their company, discussing their illness and end of life matters. So, in 1995 I joined Samaritan Hospice as a volunteer visiting patients’ homes to give their care givers needed breaks. When my job began requiring longer hours and often weekends, I could no longer be available for regular visits. Not wanting to let Samaritan down, I switched over to making bereavement phone calls. Most people are grateful for my call. Many like to tell me about the loved one they lost. I have met some of the nicest people on earth. Occasionally, I meet someone whom I know would be my friend if I met them under different circumstances.  I’m the one who benefits most with each call, which is the reason I am pleased to volunteer for Samaritan.  – Sally

My name is Pam and I started volunteering for Samaritan at the beginning of last year before the pandemic shut down.  I enjoy visiting patients and making a connection with them. Showing compassion and caring for others, especially at the end of life, is the greatest gift I can give.  Samaritan has given me the chance to spread human kindness to which all are deserving. I may come into a patient’s life as a stranger but quickly become a friendly acquaintance. Thank you Samaritan for this valued opportunity.  Currently I am conversing with a patient via the phone but look forward to the day when I can meet her in person. Hopefully we can put this pandemic behind us soon! Thank you Sally for all your positive, enlightening messages! – Pam