Why I Chose OSF Hospice Volunteer Service
The following article appeared in the Sunday, June 6, 2010 edition of the Peoria Journal Star's Prime Times edition. It was written by OSF Hospice volunteer, Emma Hines.
"I retired in July 2008 after 38½ years of working with children and the final 24½ years of my professional career working with the public. The final five years of my professional career, were often times interrupted periodically with dreams of traveling to exciting and new places, meeting interesting people, having no specific commitment other than my scheduled medical appointments.
However in midsummer of 2009 I began to feel that a part of me was not complete. I began to analyze my life and realized that my life was not about me, it was not how much or what I received, rather what had I given of myself to others.
I began to research the various local service organizations and prayed for God's guidance to help me chose an organization to be a servant to mankind. After six weeks of OSF Hospice training, I was called with my first assignment. I was privileged to have a patient who though was very ill was able to verbally communicate. It was a good feeling for someone to say thank you or I really appreciate your help.
In October of 2009, I was asked if I was interested in assisting several Alzheimer's patients. I was very apprehensive because I did not fully understand an Alzheimer's diagnosis. I knew that the condition did not come with a curable prognosis. I further was of the opinion that the patient would not even be aware that I was in their presence. How would they be able to comprehend anything that I would or attempt to do for them? How very incorrect was my perception of these delicate and very precious patients.
I learned quickly through this volunteer ministry that even though the patients are not able to communicate verbally, I am able to see it in their eyes when I repeat the Lords Prayer, read them a bible story or attempt to sing a nursery rhyme or share large print pictures with them. They aren't able to recall all the words to the rhymes or songs but their reaction let's me know. They are patients who are very ill but they are like you and me, they cry, hurt and sometimes though very rarely will smile.
I discovered that if a patient is agitated or restless a tender stroke of the hand, a soft rub to the head and a quiet prayer will calm their restless spirit. I have a couple of patients who are usually in bed for an afternoon nap and reluctantly, I would enter their rooms, sing softly to them, hold their hands or softly stroke their arm. Just as I'm about to leave the patients will open their eyes and in them I will be able to read thank you for dropping in today.
I have also been able to interact with the entire unit along with my assigned clients. They love to hear, your hair looks pretty today or what a beautiful sweater that is or just simply is there anything that I can do for you today?
OSF Hospice volunteering has enabled me to give unselfishly of myself in compassion and loving. I am now better able to understand the plight of the elderly. I look forward to fighting more fervently for their rights.
Finally, I started this journey as a bi-monthly volunteer but the more I visited the more fulfilled I became. I now try to go once weekly.
It is questionable whether they have actually helped me more than I have assisted them."