celebrating hospice

Compassus colleagues and volunteers gather recently on Woods Reservoir at the University of Tennessee Space Institute to celebrate National Volunteer Week.

Volunteer organizations across the country are celebrating the gifts of time and talent that volunteers selflessly give to help others.

Nowhere is this commitment more valuable and heartfelt than in hospice.

Julia Logan-Mayes, volunteer coordinator for the Compassus hospice program serving Tullahoma and the surrounding communities in Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy and Moore counties, said, “Even at the end of life, there can be a lot of living to do. Hospice makes that possible by bringing care, compassion, and hope to patients and families facing life-limiting illness.”

In this area, more than 50 trained volunteers provided over 1,800 hours last year to help Compassus make possible their mission to offer comfort and hope to patients and families at the end of life.

“Families often say hospice volunteers are among their most treasured caregivers,” Logan-Mayes said. “During National Volunteer Week, we honor and celebrate these caring hospice volunteers who accompany and assist so many along life’s final journey.”

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports there are an estimated 430,000 hospice volunteers giving of their time and talent to patients and families who are coping with life-limiting illness and loss. These trained volunteers provide more than 19 million hours of service every year. Last year, more than 1.6 million Americans received care from our nation’s hospices.

“Volunteers are an integral part of this special care that brings compassion and dignity to patients and their families,” Logan-Mayes said.

Hospice volunteer opportunities are endless, and all hospice volunteers receive free training that teaches them about their strengths and how to help others through the hospice journey. Often hospice volunteers are family members who were supported by hospice care during a loved one’s own end-of-life journey.

“Volunteers may provide direct companionship and support to patients and respite to caregivers with friendly visits, meal preparation, reading to patients or writing letters for them. Quietly sitting with patients is sometimes all that’s needed to offer peace and comfort,” Logan-Mayes said.

Bereavement volunteers are invaluable resources for those who have lost loved ones, especially those without a solid support network. These volunteers may assist with grief support groups, help coordinate community resources or help with writing letters and making calls.

Administrative volunteers assist the hospice staff with light office work, assist at community workshops, and send birthday and sympathy cards and bereavement notes.

Veteran volunteers offer camaraderie and compassionate, understanding care for fellow veterans.

Some volunteers, often called Angels, offer emotional support and a compassionate presence during the last hours of life for hospice patients with only one or no primary caregivers.

“Whatever their role, volunteers are the heart of hospice,” Logan-Mayes said. “During National Volunteer Week, take time to learn more about local volunteer opportunities and join us in celebrating these special faces of caring who make our community a more compassionate place to live and honor life.”