A volunteer at Regional Hospice since 2015, Gary Boulet with his warm and welcoming nature, is an integral part of the Hospice volunteer family. Last year he accumulated over 500 volunteer hours as a lobby greeter, an accomplishment that earned him the prestigious “Gold Level” President’s Volunteer Service Award. We asked him to share his Hospice experience with us.
What inspired you to become a part of Regional Hospice and Palliative Care (RHPC)?
“The Volunteer Manager of Regional Hospice came to my church one day to make a presentation about becoming a volunteer. At the time, I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in the local community. Our meeting that day couldn’t have been more perfect timing.”
What is your role at RHPC?
“I’m a lobby greeter, which is a role I find very fulfilling. When patients and families walk through our front doors, I’m one of the first people they meet. I try my best to make their entrance here not seem like the end of life, but instead, a beginning and continuation of life’s experiences. So as way to help ease any emotional discomfort, I welcome them with a smile and a feeling of joyfulness. I do whatever I can to help—sometimes that means walking visitors to the patient area or simply saying a few kind words.”
What do you get out of volunteering?
“Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose. I also feel a sense of pride at providing comfort to people who are coming here to say ‘hello’ to their relatives or bidding them ‘goodbye.’ When I’m here, I think of myself as the stranger who cares. I credit my mother, Doris, for this—she instilled in me a compassionate nature. She encouraged me always to think about other people.”
Is there an experience you’ve had that is especially memorable?
“At one point, we had a patient who was a nun. Two of her Sisters would visit every morning and have breakfast in our family dining area. My mother was very religious so being around the Sisters felt comfortable and familiar. When the nun who was here died, I went to her wake. The Sisters were overjoyed to see me there. Occasionally I run into them at the supermarket. To this day, they still express excitement whenever they see me. They rush toward me with hugs.”
“Beauty, brightness and warmth exist in all of our Center’s spaces – from the lobby and patient rooms to the dining area and garden.-Gary Boulet, Regional Hospice Volunteer
What are some lessons you’ve learned at RHPC?
“I’ve learned that Regional Hospice’s Center for Comfort Care and Healing is a place of calm and peace. I’ve also learned that it’s a rich place for making friendships. I met one of my best friends here, John Hoffman, who also volunteers. Over the years, we have become so close. He cares and is concerned about what goes on in my life as much as I care about what goes on in his. John is like a brother to me.”
For families who are considering Regional Hospice, what would you say to them?
“I’d encourage people to come and visit us. See what we have to offer and learn about the kind of care we provide. Our Center in Danbury—inside and out—speaks volumes about what goes on here. Beauty, brightness and warmth exist in all the spaces—from the lobby and patient rooms to the dining area and garden. While the lives of our patients are ending, they truly end on a high note by being here.”
What is something else about yourself that you’d like to share?
“I have a passion for music. Growing up, my three siblings and I all played instruments. Mine was the piano. My mother would be at the sink, doing dishes and say, “The piano, Gary. The piano.” She was always reminding me to play and practice. That early start and her encouragement led me to a musical profession. For many years, I was the organist and choir director at Saint Francis de Sales Church in Bennington, Vermont. Thanks to my mother, Doris, music has consistently filled my life with joy.”
Fill out a volunteer application today to join the Regional Hospice volunteer family!