By Diane Anderson, Cornerstone Hospice Volunteer Services Manager
To the average person, having someone hold your hand, walk your dog or acknowledge your service to the nation with a ceremony is a nice gesture.
For hospice patients, such actions can mean the difference between living life to the fullest and dying.
Cornerstone Hospice offers a variety of services for patients and their families across Orange, Osceola, Lake, Sumter, Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties in Florida and Cherokee, Cobb, Coweta, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Hall counties in Georgia.
These programs include respite care where volunteers give family members a break to run errands or go to medical appointments. Cornerstone Hospice Pet Peace of Mind involves volunteers walking and feeding patients’ furry family members because we know patients have a better quality of life when their pets are with them. Our Cornerstone SALUTES! program involves volunteers honoring veterans in our care with a heartfelt ceremony to thank them for their service to our nation.
The common denominator in all these programs (and many others we offer) is our volunteers. We are reliant on hundreds of volunteers across the communities we serve who donate their time to our overall mission to give dignity and comfort to people during their most difficult journey.
Ask one of our volunteers why they chose to help hospice patients and almost all will say they wanted to give back. Maybe a loved one was cared for by hospice or the volunteer came from a healthcare background.
But when you ask why they continue to volunteer, they likely will say the reward they receive from bringing a smile to a patient, family member or Cornerstone team member is greater than the gift of time they are giving.
Even with COVID-19 precautions, which restricted Cornerstone volunteers from face-to-face interactions with patients, these dedicated givers did not give up. They made cards, prepared goody bags for pets, called patients on the phone and even participated in car parades to let patients in our care and healthcare workers know they are special.
It was heartening when many Cornerstone volunteers chose to come back for the in-person activities that resumed, following state and federal social distancing and safety guidelines.
All Cornerstone volunteers go through extensive training where they learn what is involved in hospice care as well as the many different ways volunteers contribute to the care. Volunteers can choose where and when they’d like to help.
If you should feel a tug of your “hospice heart,” contact the volunteer team by calling 866-742-6655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.