HOSPICE VOLUNTEERS: Compassion, Respect, Integrity

By  //  December 22, 2013

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2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIANS

COMPASSION, RESPECT, INTEGRITY AND THE DESIRE TO HELP DEFINE THE QUALITIES OF HOSPICE VOLUNTEERS.

“As necessary when working with terminally ill patients, these volunteers set their own needs aside to ease the burden that patients and families often feel during end-of-life care,” said Mary Larson, a licensed clinical social worker and the volunteer coordinator at Hospice of St. Francis.

“They bring happiness, relief and peace and can be relied upon to deliver these gifts humbly and with appreciation for the opportunity to give back.”

ANNETTE PARKER, HOSPICE OF ST. FRANCIS

Annette Parker has a long history of service to others, beginning with a career in the Army. After retiring from military service, Parker worked as social worker, case manager and supervisor at several human service organizations. During her tenure as patient/family care volunteer for Hospice of St. Francis, Parker has made 239 visits and driven 5,852 miles to offer support and love for hospice patients.

ANNETTE PARKER, above with Marmalade, is a patient/family care volunteer for Hospice of St. Francis. She has made an incredible 239 visits and driven 5,852 miles to offer support and love for hospice patients.

ANNETTE PARKER, above with Marmalade, is a patient/family care volunteer for Hospice of St. Francis. She has made an incredible 239 visits and driven 5,852 miles to offer support and love for hospice patients.

“The numbers alone are remarkable, but what is more remarkable is that Annette gives generously of her time to a number of other nonprofits, including Space Coast Feline Network, the Pilot Club and the Vet to Vet transportation program,” said Mary Larson, Hospice of St. Francis volunteer coordinator.

Parker is a tiny woman in body, but she has a huge heart.

“There is nothing small about her compassion, her can-do attitude and her drive to be of service to others,” added Larson.

“Annette is one my go-to gals when I have a challenging assignment, whether it be providing respite care for a patient with behavioral difficulties due to dementia or one who is non-communicative due to stroke or other disease. It is wonderful to have a volunteer like Annette who will accept an assignment no matter how far she has to drive, what time of day she’s needed or the difficulty of the assignment.”

ABUNDANT LOVE AND DEVOTION

One of Parker’s cases clearly illustrates the abundant love and devotion of hospice volunteers and the peace of mind they can provide.

HOSF-388-1

During her tenure as patient/family care volunteer for Hospice of St. Francis, Annette Parker has made 239 visits and driven 5,852 miles to offer support and love for hospice patients.

Initially assigned to provide transportation to the grocery store for a hospice patient, Parker eventually took over the patient’s grocery shopping after the individual was no longer able to leave her home.

Parker noticed that the patient’s grocery list was particularly specific with respect to the food, supplies and medication for her beloved cat, Marmalade.

“Annette understood that this pet was the patient’s family, all she had,” said Larson.

As an animal lover herself, Parker well knew the importance of supporting the patient’s relationship with her pet. As the patient’s health declined, the patient increasingly worried about her cat’s future.

Hospice St. Francis and its volunteers serve Brevard’s terminally ill residents with compassionate, quality care and giving support to their loved ones.

Hospice St. Francis and its volunteers serve Brevard’s terminally ill residents with compassionate, quality care and giving support to their loved ones.

The animal was extremely devoted to her owner and did not take easily to other people. Who would care for her pet after she was gone?

“Annette herself had three cats already, but at the patient’s request, she agreed to provide a home for Marmalade,” said Larson.

One day, Parker received a phone call from the patient’s nurse asking her to come pick up Marmalade. She dropped what she was doing and hurried to the patient’s home.  The patient was so frail she could no longer care for the animal.

After settling the cat at her house, Parker immediately called the patient to report the good news that Marmalade was content, curled up and enjoying his first nap in his new home. Not long after, Parker received word from the hospice team that the patient had passed away peacefully.

TEENS LINKING LIVES, HOSPICE OF HEALTH FIRST 

More than 120 teens in grades nine to 12 bring smiles and laughter to the lives of hospice patients served by Hospice of Health First.

MORE THAN 120 TEENS in grades nine to 12 bring smiles and laughter to the lives of hospice patients served by Hospice of Health First. The students earn hours for Bright Futures Scholarships, but many continue to volunteer for many years after earning their required hours. Since its inception in 2004, Teens Linking Lives --- or TL2 --- has provided more than 5,000 hours of service to hospice patients.

MORE THAN 120 TEENS in grades nine to 12 bring smiles and laughter to the lives of hospice patients served by Hospice of Health First. The students earn hours for Bright Futures Scholarships, but many continue to volunteer for many years after earning their required hours. Since its inception in 2004, Teens Linking Lives — or TL2 — has provided more than 5,000 hours of service to hospice patients.

The students earn hours for Bright Futures Scholarships, but many continue to volunteer for many years after earning their required hours.

Since its inception in 2004, Teens Linking Lives – or TL2 – has provided more than 5,000 hours of service to hospice patients. The teens are all full-time students, and some are even dually enrolled in college level courses, yet they still make time to help with hospice patients.

Their mission is to form intergenerational bonds while bringing a smile to someone’s day.  These young people are quick to point out how important the program is for their own growth.

“Teens Linking Lives has influenced me to be more involved in my community and has shown me how sharing my time can mean so much to someone else,” said teen volunteer Brooke Whyte.

SELFLESS STUDENTS PUT NEEDS OF OTHERS FIRST

The stereotype of the self-obsessed teen is nowhere to be found among these selfless students.

These students are from all walks of life, from Bayside, Cocoa Beach and Eau Gallie High Schools, from Florida Air Academy, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Heritage High School, Melbourne Central Catholic, West Shore Junior/Senior High School and Melbourne, Palm Bay, Satellite Beach and Viera High Schools. Their backgrounds are very different, but they all share their youthful energy with hospice patients.

These students are from all walks of life, from Bayside, Cocoa Beach and Eau Gallie High Schools, from Florida Air Academy, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Heritage High School, Melbourne Central Catholic, West Shore Junior/Senior High School and Melbourne, Palm Bay, Satellite Beach and Viera High Schools. Their backgrounds are very different, but they all share their youthful energy with hospice patients. (image for Space Coast Medicine & Healthy Living)

“Hospice is one of the most helpful and selfless organizations I have ever been a part of,” said Trevor Ludwig. “It has taught me how to be caring and to put the needs of others in front of my own.”

Summer Landolfi has volunteered for TL2 for several years and cherishes the time she has given to the program.

“It is my way of giving back to an organization that provided care, compassion and emotional and spiritual support to my family and me while my grandfather was dying. I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with such a great group of people.”

Under the supervision of volunteer coordinator Danielle Armstrong, the students visit various assisted living facilities and nursing homes and represent Hospice of Health First at various community events such as the American Heart Walk, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Community CPR Day and the Arts in Medicine Showcase.

HOSPICE-HEALTH-FIRST-180These students are from all walks of life, from Bayside, Cocoa Beach and Eau Gallie High Schools, from Florida Air Academy, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Heritage High School, Melbourne Central Catholic, West Shore Junior/Senior High School and Melbourne, Palm Bay, Satellite Beach and Viera High Schools. Their backgrounds are very different, but they all share their youthful energy with hospice patients.

They play games with the patients, read stories to them or just talk and listen.

“The residents like mingling with the teens and look forward to their visits each month,” said Paige Blossom, resident programming director at Hibiscus Court in Melbourne.

Under the supervision of volunteer coordinator Danielle Armstrong, the students visit various assisted living facilities and nursing homes and represent Hospice of Health First at various community events such as the American Heart Walk, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Community CPR Day and the Arts in Medicine Showcase.

Under the supervision of volunteer coordinator Danielle Armstrong, the students visit various assisted living facilities and nursing homes and represent Hospice of Health First at various community events such as the American Heart Walk, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Community CPR Day and the Arts in Medicine Showcase. (image for Space Coast Medicine & Healthy Living)

Under the supervision of volunteer coordinator Danielle Armstrong, the students visit various assisted living facilities and nursing homes and represent Hospice of Health First at various community events such as the American Heart Walk, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Community CPR Day and the Arts in Medicine Showcase. (image for Space Coast Medicine & Healthy Living)

Victor and Yurda Karycki’s daughters, Melody and Rana, have participated in TL2 since 2008.

“Having your child in TL2 helps them develop compassion, understanding and the ability to listen and provide comfort to those in their final days,” said Yurda Karycki.

“It opened their eyes to the lives of others. This provided them with a deeper appreciation for their own family members and instilled a desire to volunteer whenever they have a chance. It exposes them to the reality of death and the importance and reverence of life.”

RENICK HENDREN, WUESTHOFF HOSPICE

Renick “Nick” Hendren’s association with hospice started with the children of Camp Hope, Wuesthoff Hospice’s program to help children over the loss of a loved one. Hendren had opted to volunteer for the camp because of his work schedule.

RENICK “NICK” HENDREN’s association with hospice started with the children of Camp Hope, Wuesthoff Hospice’s program to help children over the loss of a loved one. He also works at the Dr. Jey Pillai Center for Hospice Care at Wasdin Woods in Rockledge, where he has acquired a reputation as the go-to chef for families visiting patients at the hospice house.

RENICK “NICK” HENDREN’s association with hospice started with the children of Camp Hope, Wuesthoff Hospice’s program to help children over the loss of a loved one. He also works at the Dr. Jey Pillai Center for Hospice Care at Wasdin Woods in Rockledge, where he has acquired a reputation as the go-to chef for families visiting patients at the hospice house.

“I couldn’t do work with the hospice patients because I was still working full time,” he said.

“Working with the children was very emotionally wrenching. They are so vulnerable when they lose someone they love. It rips your heart.”

As an outside sales representative for a New Jersey company serving commercial and residential customers, Hendren couldn’t schedule regular volunteer time during the week, but he would willingly give up his lunch hour and weekends to help hospice patients.

He was familiar with the work of hospice through his mother, mother-in-law and nephew, who all benefitted from hospice care during their lives’ end.

Three years ago, when Hendren finally left the working world, he opted for a retirement that includes at least 15 hours a week with hospice patients.

WUESTHOFF-HOSPICE-388-1He picks up patients who need transportation for doctor’s visits or errands around town. He also delivers favorite meals, often cooked by him, to patients who might yearn for a special dish.

“I ask them what they would like to eat and I make sure they get it,” said Hendren.

Hendren also works at the Dr. Jey Pillai Center for Hospice Care at Wasdin Woods in Rockledge, where he has acquired a reputation as the go-to chef for families visiting patients at the hospice house.

If caregivers need respite time, Hendren is also there for them.

“Whatever they need, I do it,” he said.

WUESTHOFF-HOSPICE-250-1In addition to his face-to-face work with patients, Hendren puts in considerable time at the hospice’s administrative offices in Viera, assisting with filing and other paperwork.

It’s the least he can do, he says. “One day, it could be one of us as patients,” he said. “Wouldn’t you want somebody with you in your last days?”

ROSE McDONNELL, VITAS INNOVATIVE HOSPICE

Eight years ago, Rose McDonnell experienced a rebirth of faith.

“WE ARE VERY PROUD of the work Rose McDonnell (far right) does for our patients and we receive very positive feedback from our patients and families who receive visits from her,” said Susan Blakeslee, volunteer manager at Vitas Innovative Hospice Care of Brevard County.

“WE ARE VERY PROUD of the work Rose McDonnell (far right) does for our patients and we receive very positive feedback from our patients and families who receive visits from her,” said Susan Blakeslee, volunteer manager at Vitas Innovative Hospice Care of Brevard County.

“I became a born-again Christian and I wanted to do something for the Lord,” said the Melbourne resident. “Around that time, a little ad in the paper popped up asking for volunteers for Vitas.”

Because of the ad, McDonnell has become one of Vitas’ most hardworking volunteers.

McDonnell has taken six hospice patients under her wing, visiting them weekly at nursing homes and private residences to chat, listen and provide music therapy. She may lovingly rub lavender cream on their hands and arms to soothe them.

“I get to know them well,” she said. “There’s a lot of handholding, which is very comforting to them.”

McDonnell was no stranger to hospice, since her mother-in-law had received hospice care in her finals days.

VITAS Innovative Hospice Care®, a pioneer and leader in the hospice movement since 1978, is the nation’s largest provider of end-of-life care. Our name is derived from the Latin word for “lives” and symbolizes the VITAS mission: to preserve the quality of life for those who have a limited time to live. (Image for Space Coast Medicine & Active Living)

VITAS Innovative Hospice Care is derived from the Latin word for “lives” and symbolizes the VITAS mission: to preserve the quality of life for those who have a limited time to live. (Image for Space Coast Medicine & Active Living)

“I know what good work they do and what a big help they are to patients and caregivers,” she said.

McDonnell now also helps mentor new hospice volunteers,

“We are very proud of the work Rose does for our patients and we receive very positive feedback from our patients and families who receive visits from her,” said Susan Blakeslee, volunteer manager at Vitas Innovative Hospice Care of Brevard County.

“We truly value the work all our volunteers do at VITAS which brings comfort and joy to the patients we are honored to care for at the end of life.”

Like all hospice volunteers, McDonnell has to cope with the inevitable passing of the patients who have become friends.

“It’s very hard,” she said. “Sometimes, I visit them for months and get to know the spouse and the rest of the family. I cry and pray for the family.”

ABOUT THE 2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN AWARDS

CFHA-SPONSORS-200-1The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world. 

This year, more than 30 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.

“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Maverick Multimedia Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.

All Humanitarian alumni are presented a specially commissioned medallion.

“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.

This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Brighthouse Networks, Health First, Brevard Physicians Network, Florida Pain, Forever Florida, MPAC ACO, Brevard Geriatrics, Community Credit Union, Clear Choice Health Care, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, First Choice Medical Group, Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, CentralFloridaMedicine.com and SpaceCoastDaily.com.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIANS

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards call 321-615-8111 or e-mail SpaceCoastMedicine@gmail.com.


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