When Stacy Hefley asks people to consider becoming hospice volunteers, she is not surprised when the answer is "no, thank you." But as marketing and volunteer coordinator at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center, Hefley believes they may change their minds if they learn more about hospice.
Therefore, Hefley wants to gauge the interest in hospice-volunteer training sessions; they would entail a total of nine hours of classroom meetings one evening a week for three weeks.
"Once they get an idea of how rewarding this can be, they may decide to volunteer," Hefley said. "There are so many ways volunteers can help and they decide what they want to do."
For example, volunteers can schedule visits to provide support and encouragement for patients and families. They can also provide short relief periods for caregivers.
"This respite is so important for family members and other caregivers," Hefley said. "It can give them time to run errands, work in their gardens or meet a friend for lunch.
"The volunteer also may write a letter for or read to a patient," she continued. "Providing comfort and respite are truly rewarding experiences."
Anyone interested in learning more about hospice and/or taking the training is encouraged to contact Hefley by calling 620-786-6284. There is no obligation, even after the training, to become a volunteer.
"They will learn ways to provide physical and emotional support," Hefley said. "And we also give professional advice about how to listen and how to talk openly about death and dying."
St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center Chaplain John Grummon and Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice Director Donita Wolf, along with other professionals, are involved in the classes. GBHH&H is part of the St. Rose family.
Rosalyn Borchers, Ellinwood, has been a local volunteer for two years and also served in the same capacity in Missouri for two years.
"Originally, I thought hospice training could teach me more about caring for my aging parents, but it turned out to be a lot more than that," Borchers said. "Volunteers sometimes don’t realize how important their contributions are. The patients come to realize quickly that someone else cares about them. And that is a comfort.
"I enjoy listening to people and hearing their stories," she continued. "One patient even taught me how to play a new card game and I sometimes take my bowed psaltery (stringed instrument) to play for them. We also have moments of quiet reflection."
Borchers noted each volunteer and patient can decide how to spend their time together. "We learn how to walk with the patient both physically and emotionally, and how to be a good listener. I hope St. Rose can find more volunteers so we can help even more people."