When you think of volunteering this time of year, you often think of coat drives, soup kitchens, canned goods, and angel trees. Those are all wonderful groups and organizations that desperately need your help, but there’s another group that needs help just as much, all year ’round. And they have a tough stigma to battle, as well.
The thought of terminal illness is uncomfortable to most people, but the desire to help others is strong. When I had a family member in hospice care, my mind was so otherwise occupied that things like laundry, cleaning, and three square meals went right out the window. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have friends or family members do something as simple as make a grilled cheese sandwich or load the dishwasher. “Hospice takes care of the whole family,” says Katrina Hassell, Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator with Compassionate Care Hospice in Chesapeake. “We serve everyone’s mind, body and spirit.”
Around the holidays when merriment is high but illness takes no rests, you can help out your Hampton Roads neighbors during a time when they desperately need to see a friendly face.
Compassionate Care Hospice was kind enough to share the following ways you can volunteer during the holidays:
- Supporting Compassionate Care staff in the office. This includes paperwork, filing, and general office support so that the staff can help patients and their families.
- Supporting families. This could involve running errands, sitting with patients while family members take a break, light cooking or cleaning or during this time of year, wrapping gifts, entertaining kids, or decorating for the holidays.
- Supporting patients. This is mostly about companionship like reading, talking walks, writing letters, or listening to music.
There are many other ways to help out. Remember that even if you’re uncomfortable dealing with some aspects of hospice care, an hour stuffing envelopes is still a huge help.
If you are interested in volunteering this holiday season or any time of year:
For Chesapeake-based Compassionate Care Hospice contract Katrina Hassell. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call her at 757-405-3203.
Other volunteer opportunities are available at Virginia Beach-based Heartland Hospice. If you’re interested in learning more about those, contact is Haleigh Barnes at 757-490-9323 or Haleigh.barnes@HCR-ManorCare.com.