Volunteers want to return hospice kindness

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Through personal experience they know the invaluable servicesprovided by hospice volunteers. Now they are ready to return someof the kindness they were shown when a loved one was facingdeath.

During a volunteer training session Monday for HospiceMinistries, the importance of having compassionate people to reachout to patients was made even clearer to participants looking tobecome volunteers.

“I think the concept offers the best care that a person couldpossibly have in a painful, stressful situation,” said PatriaCoggin of Brookhaven.

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The soon-to-be volunteer saw the difference volunteers can makewhen her late husband was battling lung cancer several yearsago.

A similar positive experience with a hospice program alsobrought Jackye Wiebelt of Wesson to the training session. Shewanted to learn what she could do to help others as much as she washelped when her mother received hospice care before passing away in1997.

“Hospice played a key part in helping us when my mother wasdying. We were blessed to have hospice to see us through it,” shesaid.

Although it took a few years to prepare for the role ofvolunteer, Wiebelt said she is now ready to help HospiceMinistries, either through patient care or office work.

Volunteers with Hospice Ministries have the option of what areathey would like to assist and when they would like work. Volunteerwork ranges from fund raisers, like bake sales, to running errandsfor patients or just visiting someone with a terminaldiagnosis.

“Whatever a person’s area of expertise, we can find them a placeto volunteer at Hospice Ministries,” said volunteer coordinatorIris Waldrop. “It’s at their discretion. They can do as much or aslittle as they would like.”

She noted that volunteers span from lawyers and nurses toretirees and high school students, both men and women.

“Right now I really need more men volunteers,” she said. “Theycan help in so many ways, from moving furniture around to changinglight bulbs.”

Hospice Ministries in Brookhaven has about 55 volunteers, whichare a requirement of Medicaid and Medicare. They share some of thecare for the approximately 45 patients in the southwest Mississippiarea.

Volunteers also play a vital role in the initial bereavementprocess as they continue to help family members up to 13 monthsafter a loved one passes away.

“That’s an area where volunteers can help out tremendously. I’vehad volunteers who have taught a spouse how to drive, or how to putgas in a car or pay for bills, some things they never had to dobefore,” said Waldrop as she spoke to the trainees about the yearof transition for the grieving.

The required training session is offered about four times a yearfor those wishing to assist Hospice Ministries in their efforts tomake the last few months of a person’s life as peaceful as possiblein a home setting.

“There is no way we can be everywhere and meet all thespiritual, physical and emotional needs of the patient and family,but our volunteers help us do that,” said Waldrop.