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Volunteering at Del Corazon

The Value of a Volunteer

Volunteers are the heart of Del Corazon Hospice for the volunteer brings the gift of companionship to our patients and offers support to the patient’s loved ones. Without expectations or an agenda, our trained volunteers enter the everyday life of the hospice patient with the practiced skills of an active listener as they bring the gift of Presence.

As important members of our hospice team, volunteers share their unique talents and skills to enrich the quality of life for the patients they visit. One of the most precious gifts a volunteer can give is unconditional acceptance as they meet their assigned hospice patient exactly where the patient is at the moment. The volunteer’s non-judgmental presence helps to create a safe and supportive environment which allows the patient to feel like more than just their disease.

When a volunteer agrees to be there for a patient, they agree to “bear witness”. This process requires deep listening and the ability to remain present for them. The act of bearing witness can be expressed through listening to someone’s life story, hearing their pain, witnessing their confusion, and sharing in both their sadness and their joy. When we bear witness, we meet a person where they are without comparing them to who they used to be or what they were once able to do. This is at the core of a volunteer’s relationship with a hospice patient, and there is no higher gift to share.

The experience of being a hospice volunteer is life changing. While the weekly visits a volunteer makes might be a small part of their busy week, to one facing the end of life, the visit might be the highlight of their entire week.  Often the bond that develops between a volunteer and patient becomes a very strong and special relationship. Acceptance allows the patient the freedom to be open and to express themselves. It takes courage on the part of the hospice volunteer to be willing to give and to accept unconditionally while knowing that their patient has a very limited life expectancy.

Girl reading to elderly patient.

What does a volunteer do?

Del Corazon Hospice Volunteers provide the gift of presence.  Because they are not family members and did not know the patients before they became ill, volunteers are able to offer a very special type of presence . . . a mindful, non-judgmental presence.  The volunteers come to the patients without any agenda; they know that they are not there to rescue or to change anything or interfere with the family dynamics.

These are some of the tasks volunteers offer:

  • Companionship
  • Support to family members / caregivers
  • Running errands: going to library, post office, grocery store
  • Assistance with writing letters or making calls
  • Engagement in activities and crafts
  • Reading
  • Providing support to complete “unfinished business”
  • Holding a hand and sometimes just being present