Resources for Volunteers
Over 550,000 people volunteer at hospices around the country, donating 25 million hours of service. In fact, volunteers are an integral part of the hospice team. To learn more about volunteering, you might want to check out the links below. Or give us a call at 707-778-6242.
What's it like to volunteer?
As a Caregiver volunteer, you have the privilege of serving patients and families during tender, challenging and reflective times. Many patients and family members find it helpful to talk about their lives with and objective listener. Having an opportunity to share with a volunteer can be very rewarding for all involved.
In addition to visiting with patients, your presence as a volunteer also gives family members the opportunity for a much-needed break. The kinds of activities a volunteer might do include:
- Light housekeeping (dishes, laundry, meal preparation)
- Running errands
- Letter writing
- Sharing hobbies or special interests
As a Grief Support volunteer, you have the privilege of supporting individuals and groups through the grieving process. Grief Support volunteers offer compassionate active listening, encouragement and education. It is not unusual for grief clients to return as volunteers themselves because they have experienced such a valuable service.
Here are some comments from hospice volunteers that address the richness of their experiences:
- "The courage of the patients, and their gratitude and concern for their family. It's amazing! These caregivers are the unsung heroes. Their love and compassion is really very touching. The whole thing is profoundly moving."
- "It meant so much to us to get help from hospice when my husband was sick. I decided I wanted to give back, so I became a hospice volunteer. What I didn't know at the time was how much I would get out of it, being on the giving end. It's one the best things I do."
- “Going through my own losses in life helped me deepen my compassion for others. As a Grief Support volunteer, I understand how listening and support is essential to the healing process. It is a privilege to accompany people through this poignant time.”
Please know that a volunteer will never be expected to do something they do not want to do. In addition, all volunteers receive extensive training and support, and there is a Volunteer Coordinator to help if you have questions or concerns.
Patient-care and grief support are not the only way to contribute. If you are interested in volunteering but don't see yourself working with patients or clients, hospice will gladly find ways to use your unique talents. Other volunteer opportunities could include things like:
- Clerical tasks (mailings, reception, special projects)
- Staffing a table at a health fair
- Helping at a fundraising event
- Helping with computer projects
- Serving on an advisory committee
- Assisting at the thrift stores
If you'd like to talk more about volunteering, CONTACT US – We’d love to hear from you!
Books on volunteering
Dying Declarations: Notes from a Hospice Volunteer
A candid account of a volunteer's initial concern that hospice would be a depressing venue. Instead, the author tells touching stories that illustrate the uplifting and enriching nature of working with people who, at the end of life, are willing to strip away all that is unimportant and embrace their true priorities. He also gets very specific about hospice training and the ways a hospice volunteer can positively impact the patients and families they serve.
In the Midst of Dying: A Hospice Volunteer's Story
Retired English teacher, Charles Rose, recounts stories of his experience in Lee County, Alabama.
Lessons for the Living: Stories of Foregiveness, Gratitude and Courage at the End of Life
The author, a hospice volunteer, shares his personal journey as he cares for hospice patients and learns the simple grace of ordinary acts of daily kindness.
When Autumn Comes: Creating Compassionate Care of the Dying
Practical advice and thoughtful reflection accompany the stories presented in this book by long time hospice volunteer, Mary Jo Bennett.
When Evening Comes: The Education of a Hospice Volunteer
Through 15 stories of working with women dying of breast cancer in rural Virginia, the author traces her evolution from novice to seasoned volunteer. She talks about some of the difficulties, but also the immense rewards.
Volunteer training materials
Although training is an integral part of the volunteer program, you may find these reference materials useful.
This 500 page binder is a caregiver training manual funded by Eisai and created as a joint project of numerous caregiving organizations. Although not hospice-specific, it certainly offers education and skill-building pertinent to the hospice volunteer, covering topics such as aging, becoming a volunteer, supporting family caregivers, dealing with loss, finding help, and a glossary of common terms. Each chapter can be downloaded for free.
Growthhouse is a website that leverages Internet communication to help end-of-life professionals network and access resources to improve their practice and understanding. It has a special section for volunteers, including books, links to professional forums, a newsletter, and a guided meditation CD on providing compassionate service.
Please Note: our hospice programs does not specifically endorse the activities of these organizations, but offers their information as a sample of the kinds of materials and services that are available.