Volunteering with LightBridge means opening yourself to the unparalleled compassion and empathy involved in hospice care. With April marking National Volunteer Month, we proudly celebrated the 60-plus volunteers who assist in virtually every aspect of our organization on a daily basis. To shine light on how special these people are, we invited a few of our most active volunteers to an open discussion on the LightBridge mission and how being a part of it enriches lives, including their own.
Not Just Patients, But People
Dr. Lori Montross, who supervises the LightBridge volunteer team while also leading our Integrative Therapy Programs, praises the volunteers for their genuine, sincere commitment.
“Many of our volunteers become the patients’ last best friends,” Montross said. “Even though we refer to them as patients, the way the volunteers care for them reminds us that they are people. We all share the same journey and experience the same emotions in life.”
Su, one of our volunteers who contributes in both hospice care and administration, shared that she gains immense fulfillment from hospice visits because she gets to learn all about the person’s life.
“When they talk about their family, their prized moments, and their memories, you can feel the warmth and love in their voice,” Su said. “I leave enlightened, and the emotional investment builds with each visit. I really can’t wait to go see them again.”
On a typical visit, Su might spend anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours conversing with the patient. “I’ll stay for as long as they’re interested and keep encouraging them to share their stories,” she said.
The Intimacy of Final Moments
For Charisse, an 11th hour volunteer, being present while patients are actively dying has made her more aware of the world and the final destiny we all face.
“Working with hospice individuals changes you,” Charisse said. “To know that you’re there for someone’s last time on Earth makes you realize that dying can be a peaceful event. You’re simply present for them. You hold their hand and let them lead.”
Charisse, who worked with the VA Medical Center for 21 years before retiring, is also now providing LightBridge with administrative support, including assisting our HR department and aromatherapy services.
A New and Profound Outlook
If you were to ask each of our volunteers how working with LightBridge has impacted their overall perspective, you would likely notice a common thread in their responses –the evolution of their outlook on life and death.
Samson, a college student who plans to pursue a career in the medical field, offered truly beautiful words on this aspect, saying:
“Volunteering in hospice gives you a new perspective on what gives meaning to life, and that’s human connection, relationships and bonds of love. It’s a very rich experience to be there with a patient and capture the snippets that make their life one of a kind.”
Samson added that he enjoys getting familiar with each patient’s own unique personality and letting them choose how they would like to engage. He then finds himself gladly gathering any and all materials necessary to bring those activities to them, from paint supplies to paperwork and everything in between. Most recently, Samson spent weeks helping a patient apply and gain admission to a veterans’ home.
Not One Bitter Soul
Michael, an extremely upbeat volunteer who joined the LightBridge team after selling his business, explained that he has never met a bitter patient in hospice.
“You could think, ‘why me?’ or be stuck in a tragic mindset, but no,” Michael said. “It’s amazing how positive the atmosphere can be in these intense, surreal moments. That’s a testament to LightBridge’s ability to provide care in every way possible as someone is entering their end of life journey.”
In addition to spending time with patients – several of whom have asked him to help author their respective life stories – Michael has a hand in training our new volunteers. Like everyone on our team, he has a contagiously positive spirit.
Are you looking to participate in an organization that will not only welcome your efforts, but also embrace your skills and allow you to contribute how you see fit? We invite you to join the wonderful, diverse team of volunteers at LightBridge. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities and apply today! We can’t wait to speak with you.
Posted on May 01, 2018