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Volunteers Come From All Walks of Life
Submitted by: Trust Bridge Health

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Volunteers Come From All Walks of Life

Submitted by Laurel Drazen With Trust Bridge Health

Marlene Rizzolo, Resale Volunteer

Marlene began volunteering in one of TrustBridge’s Resale Shops very shortly after retiring from her nursing career.

“I like to be busy and I’m an avid shopper, so it was a perfect match. When I’m at the shop, I like to Google the value of antiques, crystal, designer clothing, bag and shoes to help the manager come up with the fair value. I also like to be out in the store with the customers. The volunteers are vibrant and funny, and our personalities blend so well together. It’s such an upbeat place to be.” 

Nate and Annie Kerr, Patient Visitors and Administrative Volunteers

Pastor Nate and Annie are a married couple who volunteer together, visiting patients and helping in our offices.

“I became a volunteer because of the wonderful care hospice provided for some of my family members.  I wanted a chance to give back to them.  Being a pastor, I know that love and caring are what it’s all about, and how important it is to care for the whole person.  When I visit patients, I hope I bring them joy—the same kind I feel every time I visit them,” Nate shared.

Once day each week, the Kerr’s offer administrative support.  Nate prepares packets for caregivers while Annie inputs data for the Bereavement Center. “It is so rewarding to know that I’m helping to meet the needs of patients and families. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and to show your love for people,” added Annie.

The Ladies Who Lunch Mary , Betty, Pat and Barbara

After a full morning of volunteering, four unassuming women get together in our C.W. Gerstenberg Hospice Center cafeteria every Friday for lunch.  No one would ever suspect that they are actually superheroes.

Mary Behr and Betty Conover are Eucharistic Ministers who pray with families two mornings a week in the inpatient care center.  They pray with people of all faiths and are able to distribute the Eucharist to Catholic patients.  Pat Byrne spends her mornings visiting hospice patients and families while Barbara Hammerschlag helps several departments with administrative projects.  These two can also be found assisting at Foundation fundraising events throughout the year. 

Collectively, these exceptional ladies have dedicated 61 years to unselfishly uplifting the lives of others. Now, that’s something to celebrate! Lunch anyone?

Samantha Kuras & Ted – Pet Therapy Team

Sam decided she wanted to work in pet therapy when she received Ted as a birthday present.  Ted loves both giving and receiving attention from virtually everyone he meets.  “The days I volunteer with hospice are so positive.  I show up with Ted and we bring smiles and good feelings to people who are going through a very hard time.  And they return these good feelings to us.”

“Since we work as a pet therapy team, I get to see the wonderful bond that Ted develops with so many of the people at the Boca Care Center.  To witness a happy exchange between my dog and a patient or a family member is truly inspiring for me.  Ted cries with excitement when we pull into the parking lot, so I know he enjoys it, too,” Sam shared. “The experience adds so much to both of our lives.” 

Linda Kane, Patient Visitor

Linda became interested in volunteering with hospice when someone she knew became ill. “I was surprised and thrilled to see this 90-year-old continue to go out to eat, get her hair done and play cards with friends.  Through her, I learned that being on hospice care did not mean a time of sadness or despair but a time of hope, laughter and peace of mind,” Linda explained.

“I have visited many patients over the past 3 years.  Some are unable to get out, but they are always full of life and laughter.  We don’t dwell on their illness; we just relate to each other as people.  I always leave them feeling enlightened and so blessed for getting to know them,” she added. “The only skill you need is a smile, a compassionate personality and an open heart. The patients will fill that heart with more joy than you can ever imagine.”

Kara Kent, M.A.M.C., B.S. R., Volunteer Chaplain

Kara believes that to find purpose in life we are to add value to people. She embodies this philosophy as a hospice chaplain in our Professional Volunteer program.  “I started out as a patient-visitor volunteer, reading to patients, taking walks, and writing notes for them, for example. I also do vigil visits. When people are imminently dying, I am there to hear their last words and convey them to their family. If they are unresponsive, I am there as a caring, comforting presence.”

“I pursued my Master’s Degree, so now I volunteer professionally as hospice chaplain. I find out each person’s faith and pray for them as they exit this world. A prayer may include that they be released from any regrets, fears, doubts and anxieties they may have. My hope is that they and their families feel valued and reassured at this most vulnerable phase of life,” Kara shared.

Christopher Delange, Patient Visitor

Christopher has his sights set on medical school. This forward-thinking University of Central Florida (UCF) undergrad became a hospice volunteer during his summer break. He said he wanted to, “gain one-to-one patient experience and do something that really helps people.” He accomplished what he hoped for and received some nice surprises along the way.

“I saw how much hospice care helped my great-grandmother and my family, so I had some idea of what to expect. What I couldn’t anticipate was the connection I had with the people I visited with. One man told me great stories about growing up in the 1930’s. I enjoyed my time with him so much and learned a lot from his perspective. I’ll never forget him,” Christopher explained. It has been such a positive experience that he plans to volunteer at a hospice in Orlando when he returns to UCF this fall.

Cathy Dash & Pearl – Pet Therapy Team

“When I retired as an ICU nurse, I didn’t want to become isolated. Volunteering at the hospice resale shop offered wonderful socialization, and I treasure the friends I made there,” Cathy said.  Six years later, another hospice opportunity presented itself when Cathy adopted Pearl, a retired hunting dog.

Pearl’s vet saw how gentle she was and recommended the pet therapy program, so Cathy and Pearl went through the training.  “I’ve seen Pearl just take people into a different place. They feel better when they’re petting her and connecting with her. It’s wonderful to experience.” 

One little boy was skeptical when Pearl and Cathy arrived to visit his grandmother.  “Pearl went over to him (as if on cue) and put her head into his lap. He started petting her, then he hugged her and started to cry.  Afterwards, he looked at me and said, ‘My heart feels better now.’ That’s what volunteering means to me.”

Brenda Magee, Resale Volunteer

When she retired, Brenda began volunteering at one of our Resale Shops doing inventory and dusting furniture. When she started working as a cashier, she made it her job to greet every visitor with a smile as they arrived and left the shop. “I get to meet everyone who comes in to make a donation, shop and browse.  I want them to know how important they are to us and to our hospice patients.  Many families visit regularly and we really enjoy seeing each other,” Brenda said.

“Every day is different and fun! It’s a great way to give back to the community and connect with people.  The volunteers are like a family, always laughing and kidding around with each other.  You can come in with your friends or make new ones.  We’re all here for the same good cause—to help Hospice take care of people,” she added.

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