“Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” Those were the opening words of the invocation given by Liz Niehoff, Associate Chaplain of RHHC, to the 179 volunteers and staff attending the annual Volunteer Luncheon at the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield. They were fitting, as she went on to explain, “your generosity of spirit and compassion for your fellow human beings…takes my breath away.”
Hospice Volunteers Have Many Skills
As a staff member who readily works alongside volunteers, Liz explained that she has seen volunteers, “use your skills as Eucharistic Ministers, Reiki masters, hair stylists, therapy dog guides, massage therapists, comedians, joy-givers, go-getters, empathic listeners, hug offerers, need assessors, prayer, meditation and visualization offerers, song-singers, and most importantly, the offerer of loving presence when needed.” She then acknowledged that the lengthy list is not nearly complete, as volunteers share so many of their boundless gifts with patients and their families.
A Caring Like No Other
Cynthia Emiry Roy, President and CEO, explained that Regional Hospice and Home Care strives to make sure that everyone touched by the organization, “feels loved and cared for.” Compassionate hospice care is about making sure that final memories are good experiences, and our volunteers are vital in that mission. Roy stressed that the level of empathy and compassion exuded by volunteers and staff is priceless. “You can’t breed that unless you really feel it,” she emphasized. Further stating that, “As volunteers you provide a love and care we couldn’t provide. You are there because you really want to be, selflessly.” She also thanked our devoted Volunteer Board of Directors for supporting her as Regional Hospice and Home Care continues to grow.
A Big Job Fulfilled Beautifully
Few people realize just how involved the volunteer programs are at RHHC as they run seamlessly due to the collaboration of Mary Beth Hickey, Volunteer Director; Laura Cordeira, Volunteer Manager; and Diane Carneiro, Volunteer Coordinator. The team works together to insure that the Center for Comfort Care and Healing is staffed around the clock with Family Support Volunteers, Pet Partners, Complimentary Therapists, Gardeners and more in over 84 slots per week, along with the numerous volunteers serving in the community through our home hospice programs.
Many Hands and Hearts
The job is a big one assisted heavily by the 400 dedicated volunteers who are ready for service, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Volunteers like John Hoffman and Gary Boulet who each put in over 500 hours of service in 2015, or our community chapter members who spent 2,882 hours raising over $227,896 for patient care. It is a level of dedication so astounding that Hickey is often moved to tears. Tears of appreciation are common among RHHC staff as we all find the volunteers who work alongside us to be incredibly inspiring.
A Volunteer Who Does It All
With all the dedicated service it is not surprising that selecting the Marguerite M. Minck Volunteer of the Year Award is always a challenge. However, in 2015, Danbury’s very own Theresa Taylor was impossible to overlook. As Laura Cordeira explained, “With almost 300 hours in her first year volunteering, there was virtually nothing that this volunteer has not done.” Citing the long list of activities which included: patient and family support, golf and gala events, making flower arrangements, running the kitchen at our annual Service of Remembrance, joining the Danbury Fundraising Chapter to help sell ads and tables, helping our marketing department by posting signs about our thrift sale all around town, delivering cookies to local doctors, helping to set up and organize all of our in-house events and even training new volunteers. “She approaches each and every one of her assignments with an earnestness and devotion that assures the staff that she will get it done – and do it well. She is a fantastic listener and companion for all of our patients – and has a sense of humor that helps her deal with even the most difficult situations,” Cordeira explained with joy and gratitude before presenting the award to Taylor.
Gratitude Begets Gratitude
In true humble and gracious fashion, many of the wonderful volunteers who attended the event lingered afterwards, enjoying the beauty of The Candlewood Inn, expressing gratitude for the day and the opportunity to be of service. Shortly after, emails began pouring into the Volunteer Office with sentiments such as the following: “We send a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you for today’s beautiful luncheon. It was wonderful spending time with fellow volunteers and staff. The whole event was warm and welcoming – and the food was delicious! The support we feel from everyone at Regional Hospice inspires us and makes us so glad to be a part of this extraordinary organization.” A beautiful summation of just how special the day was, and how truly amazing our volunteers can be.
If you are interested in joining our loving volunteer family, please visit the Volunteer page.
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