By the time the clock strikes midnight and the champagne corks start popping, many of us will have written a list of New Year’s resolutions. Estimates show that about half of all Americans commit to at least one pledge to make a positive change in their lives. For many, this means eating right, exercising, saving money, getting more organized, and quitting or reducing bad habits. But, as I perused the government website http://www.usa.gov, I was also happy to see that one of the most popular resolutions is volunteering to help others.
In hospice, I don’t know what we would do without our wonderful volunteers! The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization estimates that 458,000 hospice volunteers provide more than 21 million hours of service to hospice programs every year. The average hospice volunteer devotes 46.7 hours of time and makes an average of 20 visits to hospice patients annually.
At Solari Hospice Care, I’ve dubbed our volunteers “angels.” These dedicated, caring, compassionate men and women, who so selflessly give of their time and talents, truly touch our hearts. They provide support, companionship and dignity to patients, families and caregivers at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
Hospice volunteers play an indispensable role in enabling Solari Hospice Care to offer the best care possible for people who are facing serious and life-limiting illnesses. I can’t say enough about the energy, expertise and enthusiasm volunteers add to our program. Hospice volunteers help the people they serve live every moment of life to the fullest. It seems almost every day, we hear compliments and stories of gratitude about the work that our volunteers are doing.
Volunteers at Solari Hospice Care perform a variety of different tasks. They help family members with short-term respite relief, enabling them to get away from home for an hour or so to run errands. Volunteers sit at the bedside with patients, reading to them or simply talking and listening. Some volunteers share a special knowledge or hobby, such as speaking a second language, singing or playing music. Other volunteers provide specialized services to patients, like notary services. Solari volunteers also answer phones, assist with receptionist duties and perform light secretarial support.
Mark Twain once said, “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to know you are giving back to those in need. Even a couple of hours a week can have a huge impact!
Ironically, some of the biggest benefits in becoming a hospice volunteer may not be limited to those gifts you give, but rather to those gifts you receive. There’s something about carving out time to help others that leaves you feeling better about yourself. In fact, research shows that kindness is good for you. Did you know that your body releases the hormone oxytocin when you perform a good deed? Oxytocin reduces blood pressure and aids in heart health, keeping you healthier and happier. Volunteering also builds self-esteem and self-confidence, and helps you develop or hone new skills.
In the end, volunteering is a win-win for everyone involved. As you contemplate what you would like to accomplish in 2013, I encourage you to consider reaching out to help others. We would love to have more “angels” join our volunteer team and become part of the Solari family.
To learn more about Solari’s volunteer programs, contact our volunteer coordinators: Shari Diebold, Las Vegas, 702-870-0000, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Supriya Joshi, Houston, 713-664-7120, email@example.com.