The month of April is a time to celebrate and thank our volunteers. A volunteer program is required by Medicare for all hospice organizations and includes additional program requirements regarding direct patient contact hours and administrative hours. At Hospice of Southern Illinois, our volunteers perform a range of tasks in order to serve our patients directly and indirectly. This month, we’ve interviewed two very special volunteers.
Meet Jeanne Nyberg and Jeanne Arro. Jeanne N. is a retired fourth grade teacher and Jeanne A. comes from a background in sales and work as an x-ray technician. They each had experience with Hospice of Southern Illinois prior to beginning to volunteer for the organization. Jeanne A.’s husband was cared for by the staff of Hospice of Southern Illinois in the last months of his life. Jeanne A. says “I loved his nurse and all the staff that were helping care for him. I realized the support people in my position needed and I wanted to give that.”
Jeanne N. has a similar story. She had been a caregiver for both of her parents for some time and when it came time for additional care for her father at the end of his life, she called Hospice of Southern Illinois. Jeanne recalls “There was a point when Dad was unresponsive and Hospice of Southern Illinois helped me be a daughter. I felt a connection to the company.”
If you know “the Jeannes” as they are often referred to, you’d think they’ve been friends for years and had known each other prior to volunteering with Hospice of Southern Illinois. However, these two actually met through volunteering and have since formed a deep, life-long friendship. Jeanne A. began volunteering ten years ago and Jeanne N. seven years ago. Now, they don’t go a day without talking. They volunteer and travel together.
Jeanne A. and Jeanne N. shared similar recollections when asked what one of their most memorable moments with Hospice of Southern Illinois was. Jeanne A. says, “When my husband passed away, the Hospice of Southern Illinois team came to the house. As he was being taken out by the coroner, the team lined up to form a path.” Jeanne recalls how special this moment was. Jeanne N. stated that the same kind of experience happened when her father passed away. She recalls, “I felt the love, support, and respect from the Hospice of Southern Illinois care team.”
It may surprise some that there is a varied list of activities when volunteering with Hospice of Southern Illinois. “The Jeannes” shared the different activities they’ve participated in as volunteers for Hospice of Southern Illinois. They recount that they’ve done just about everything there is to do as a volunteer including: participating in the adventure committee, events with Development and Community Education, sewing bibs for patients, health fairs with Community Education, one-on-one visiting with patients, pet therapy visits, clerical help, and participating in the craft group.
“The Jeannes” share what might surprise someone who has never volunteered with Hospice of Southern Illinois. Jeanne N. says, “Volunteering with Hospice of Southern Illinois is not as heartbreaking as you think it would be. It’s peaceful and beautiful. There are times you’re sad, but it’s so peaceful and beautiful.” Jeanne A. says, “I’ve learned not to judge a family’s dynamic. I still have to remind myself, but you don’t know what’s happened in their past. Also, there really are patients that don’t have anyone.”
Some may have concerns about the time commitment expected when volunteering with Hospice of Southern Illinois. Jeanne N. says, “You can say no at any time. Shelly, the Volunteer Services Manager, never makes you feel obligated to do anything.” Jeanne A. also shared, “Shelly is so understanding if she calls us to ask if we’re available to help with an event or new patient.”
After so many years, what keeps “the Jeannes” volunteering for Hospice of Southern Illinois?
Jeanne N. says, “I have met so many people, staff, patients, other volunteers, who have shown me what human beings should be like. I see needs and I want to fill them. I meet people with big hearts and I want to leave that legacy behind. I want to emulate those people.” Jeanne A. agreed and added “The relationships I’ve made with the staff, patients, and other volunteers kept me wanting to stay engaged.”
Hospice of Southern Illinois has 252 volunteers who help with a range of activities ranging from direct patient interaction to helping with fundraising, special events, pet therapy and administrative tasks. Join us in serving our community members and become a volunteer today. For more information contact Shelly Black, Sally Koval, or Rita Spiller at 1-800-233-1708.