Everyday Compassion - June 2011

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A Publication of Hospice Compassus

Vol. 3 • No. 2

Giving & Receiving Our Volunteers Generously Give Their Time, Talent, and Hearts

Everyday Compassion


olunteers are a large part of the Heart of Hospice. At a time when many feel all hope is lost, volunteers appear as a living message of

kindness and support. When the promises of the material world exhaust themselves, volunteers arrive on the scene willing and able to forge a human connection that delivers spiritual sustenance. When emotional resources seem scant or depleted, volunteers give of themselves with no expectation of return and, as if by a miracle, create an abundance of goodwill. Oftentimes, volunteers themselves have experienced the gift of hospice on its most intimate terms. Having navigated their own deep personal loss with the support of others whose friendship they may never have imagined, they are able to tap within themselves a bottomless reservoir of empathy and kindness that they are willing to share in endless supply and with a conviction born of the truths known to them. In a busy world of multitasking, overlapping schedules, endless meetings, and frenzied movement from one appointment to the next, volunteers remind all of us of our core values and essential humanness that inject meaning into our lives, in spite of our eagerness to be distracted.

We’d love to hear what you think about our company and our colleagues. Please contact us on our website at www.hospicecompassus.com

In this issue of Everyday Compassion, we celebrate our volunteers and the selfless contributions they make of their time, their energy, their companionship, and their love. We also celebrate the joy and comfort their contributions bring to our patients, their caregivers, and their loved ones. We hope you enjoy their stories, and we hope their spirit inspires you to consider how even the smallest gifts, when given with heartfelt compassion, can expand to proportions of tremendous significance in the lives of so many.

Jim Deal Chief Executive Officer


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

the shared experience The Right Place, The Right Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Zeb’s Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 A Last Wish...or Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 The Power of a Golden Heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

hospice life - volunteers


Adieu, Ciao, but Not Goodbye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Angel Volunteers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Hospice Angels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Sweet Gestures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Spring Fling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Making Lemonade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 More Blessed to Give Than to Receive . . . . . . . . 15 The Life & Times of a Hospice Volunteer . . . . . . 16 Memory Bears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 I Love Granma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 A Mother’s Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 A Friend of the Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Thank You, Angels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Precious Jewels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

care-team spotlight Making a Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20


lessons from the field Jesus to Her . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

sharpening the saw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Everyday Compassion is published periodically by Hospice Compassus. Please address any comments or questions to: Editor, Everyday Compassion, Hospice Compassus, 12 Cadillac Drive, Suite 360, Brentwood, TN, 37027.

PUBLISHER: Hospice Compassus EDITOR: Brooke Legnon, Marketing Director ASSISTANT EDITOR: Jan Shaffer, Senior Human Resources Consultant CONTRIBUTORS: Janine Bonner, Ginger Harrison, Debbie Coots, Diane Kincaid, Diane Hasler, Cassandra Hall, Sharon Blackwell, Jess Rolins, Virginia Chryssikos, Judy Ermold, Teresa McQerrey, Dick Brubaker, Samatha Ballard, Angela Parker, Jacki McCormick, Phyllis Dunlap, Dave Williams, Deborah Andrews, Fred Richardson, Corey Giddings, Ellen Arnce, Aimee Hartley, Jacki Reese, Cara Blair, Jo Ann Beasley, Betty Bricker, Pamela Steenburg, Jackie Bustamante, Susan Simonds. CREATIVE: Tallgrass Studios, Inc. Copyright © 2011 Hospice Compassus. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced in any manner without the prior written consent of Hospice Compassus.



With a Banjo on My Knee N

eil Unterseher, accomplished artist and musician, has been a volunteer for the Hospice Compassus office in Waveland/Gulf Coast, Mississippi, since August 2009. A Dixieland jazz musician, Neil played at Preservation Hall for 17 years in New Orleans and many other places, including Your Father’s Mustache, the Natchez and Creole Queen River Boat Cruises, and the Palace Café in New Orleans. Neil enjoys going to the nursing and personal care homes, playing his banjo and singing for the residents; and they love to listen and sing along with him. He’s even offered to sing and play a song on his banjo to comfort patients in their final hours of life. Several times a year a group of volunteers get together, dress up in costumes, and entertain residents at personal care and nursing homes, with Neil as our music leader. Neil says, “I’ve been a professional musician for over 50 years, and playing for the hospice folks is the highlight of my career.” We are very blessed and grateful to have Neil as a part of our team. Neil in his Mardi Gras attire, – Janine Bonner, Volunteer Coordinator Gulf Coast/Waveland, Mississippi

ready to perform at the nursing facilities.

A Dynamic Duo


olly, a Border collie mix who was a rescue dog, recently joined Larry, a 25-pound feline,

to visit residents of a Branson nursing home. Molly belongs to volunteer Cheryle Rossini, and Larry is owned by volunteer Gail Compton. Cheryle and Gail do a great service for patients when they take their pets to nursing homes on a monthly basis. Both Molly and Larry are experienced volunteers—it seems they always know the most appropriate response for each resident!

– Ginger Harrison, Volunteer Coordinator Branson/Mone tt, Missouri

Nursing home resident Kelly Shutt looks forward to the pet visits each month.



You’re Never Too Young I

have been a volunteer for Hospice Compassus for nearly 8 years. In January of 2009 I had the pleasure and opportunity to join the Hospice Team working in the office as a Program Assistant. One day in mid-February this year I received a call from a lady who previously had two relatives on our service who received excellent care. She told me a story about her 7-year-old granddaughter, Emily, who had seen a calendar from St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital. She was curious about the children with no hair, so her mother explained to her. After hearing this information, Emily sprang into action. She chose one of her baby dolls, complete with bottle and clothes, that she wanted to gift wrap and give to a sick child who could really benefit from such an act of kindness. I was deeply moved by this little girl’s offer to part with one of her favorite dolls and give it to another child in an effort to help relieve her pain and suffering. “What a sweet, thoughtful gesture!” I thought. “Perhaps someday down the road this young girl, all grown up, could be a hospice volunteer.” I felt she was a perfect candidate!!! She already had the core value of compassion! Hospice Compassus strives to provide quality of life when the quantity of life itself is limited. The Hospice Care Team includes nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement and volunteer coordinators, and volunteers themselves. The Team works jointly with the patient and family, their personal physician, and our medical directors to prepare a plan of care that best fits the patient’s needs. Every member of the Team, including the volunteers, has a vital role to play in achieving our goal of excellent care. Emily is pictured with her gift that we hope will bring a bright, shining smile to the face of another small child, easing her sorrow and pain.

Emily Tellman with her gift and Jim Biggs, Hospice Care Consultant, and Debbie Coots, Program Assistant.

Popcorn and a Movie Thanks to Corrinne Casey, Regional Clinical Director, for Popcorn-and-a-Movie in Lakeside, Arizona!


n an innovative approach to understanding end-of-life dynamics, Corrinne sent the Lakeside Care Team a box of theatre goodies—popcorn, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, etc.—and “Two Weeks,” a movie starring Sally Field as a dying cancer patient. The clinical staff watched the film and completed their regular assessments, as if the characters were actual hospice clients. In this case, though, they had an advantage—they could see what happens when the professionals aren’t around to observe. The next week Corrinne arrived for her usual visit, and the team completed a comprehensive plan of care, incorporating everything they’d seen of the interactions among Sally’s “patient” and the members of her family. The Director of Clinical Services, RN Case Managers, Social Workers, Chaplain, and Volunteer Coordinator both enjoyed and learned from Corrinne’s unique teaching process! – Diane Kincaid, Business Office Coordinator Lake side , Arizona

– Debbie Coots, Program Assistant Jefferson City, Missouri Lakeside Care Team enjoying their goodies and the movie.

Vol. 3 • No. 2


“Uffda!” A

rnold Skindelien, a patient of the Branson, Missouri, office had parents of Norwegian heritage. They raised him in Sanburg, Minnesota, and he learned their native language and culture as a child. Having lived 88 years without the opportunity to go to Norway, his dream was to visit their homeland before he died. Arnold’s declining health prevented him from traveling to Norway, so the Branson Dream Team decided to bring Norway to him. As the Branson Social Worker, I decided to do some research and discovered a unique Norwegian word: “uffda.” For several days prior to the Dream Team’s visit, Arnold had been somewhat incoherent. When we arrived at his daughter’s home, he was sleeping in a recliner. I bent down close to him, raised my voice a little, and said, “Uffda!” Arnold awakened with a smile. His blue eyes sparkled as he looked up and saw his

daughter, Judy, her husband, Larry, and the Dream Team members. When asked what “uffda” meant, Arnold said it could mean about anything, but it was usually used in the context of “surprise.” About this time Arnold’s Hospice Aide, Lee Richardson, arrived. Once he saw Lee, his eyes lit up again. Indeed he was “uffda-ed”—pleasantly surprised. The Dream Team then presented Arnold with a Norwegian flag, books on Norway, a DVD of points of interest in Norway, an “I Love Norway” T-Shirt, a two-horned authentic Viking helmet, and a Norwegian dog tag. Longtime Branson hospice volunteers Phil and Sonja Johannes had cooked and

baked several authentic Norwegian foods: krumkake, rosettes, and kromla (a potato dumpling). Arnold shared with us the names of each. In addition, Phil and Sonja had baked a special pastry to present to Arnold— “kringla,” similar to our pretzels. Arnold said these were staples as a snack in his home growing up. Arnold’s daughter, Judy, told us about her dad’s great life. He was well-known in the community, active in both the Zurah Shrine Horse Patrol and the Royal Order of Jesters of San Diego, and an overall “people person.” Judy and Larry were very grateful for the Dream Team and the way they made Arnold’s dream a reality. Following the gift presentation, Arnold said, “Thank you for honoring my heritage. This is very nice. I am glad you did this for me. It means a lot.” Thanks to Hospice volunteers Phil and Sonja Johannes and the Dream Team for sharing so much “uffda” with heartfelt compassion. – Diane Hasler, Social Worker Branson/Mone tt, Missouri

Welcome Home D

ebbie Creel, Hospice Compassus volunteer in McComb, Mississippi, entered the home of Bennie and Johnnie Wells ready to help them in any way she could. She wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing that every family is different. When she met them, she was most touched by their happiness and high spirits. Mr. and Mrs. Wells invited Debbie into their home and made her part of their family. It had always been important to Mrs. Wells to have a clean home. As some of these everyday tasks became more difficult, Debbie wanted to help alleviate this worry; so she began doing some of the regular housekeeping chores. Debbie and Mrs. Wells both took satisfaction in knowing that the Wells home would look great when visitors came. To Debbie, it seemed such a small thing. She was happy to help and enjoyed being with them so much that it didn’t seem like work at all. As Debbie got to know Mr. and Mrs. Wells, she began to feel that they were doing much more for her than she could ever do for them. Each time she was with them, their bright and happy attitudes were an uplifting blessing to Debbie. They showed an 4

overwhelming appreciation for each moment they were given, never letting the sorrow of their troubles get them down. In time Mrs. Wells passed away, followed soon after by Mr. Wells. Debbie felt the loss of these two wonderful people deeply and still misses them. Like Bennie and Johnnie Wells, Debbie has learned to appreciate each day she is given. She looks forward to the day when she will see them again in Heaven. She knows they will greet her as enthusiastically as they did the first time she met them. “Welcome home,” they will say. “Come on in and make yourself comfortable.” – Cassandra Hall, Volunteer Coordinator McComb/Natchez, Mississippi everyday COMPASSION

Camp Journey Reflecting and Anticipating: Camp Journey 2010 and 2011


smiled as I visually scanned the group of campers and the family members who had joined them for our closing balloon release ceremony. One camper was smiling as he pointed to the sky, leaning his headonhisgrandmother’sshoulder and proclaiming, “Up there! See the green one? That’s mine!” What a wonderful way to end a wonderful day; what an inspirational photo to reflect on last year and focus us as plans are made to host this year’s Camp Journey. REFLECTING Not so long ago Gail Davidson, our Executive Director, expressed a desire for our Program to reach out to children walking the journey of grief; and soon we were planning our first-ever day camp for children who had experienced a loss. Camp Journey’s inaugural session was held Saturday, May 15, 2010. The day was filled with a variety of activities for the campers— some for fun, and others offering opportunities to reflect on their lossesandtogaintheunderstanding that others in their age group had alsoexperiencedlossesintheirlives. Camp Journey activities included a Memory Pillow Session where the campersmadeapersonalizedpillow, and a Journaling Session in which each one created a personal journal.

Vol. 3 • No. 2

Both of these allowed them to share memories of their loved ones with other campers. A more unusual element was the Obstacle Course, which had 10 different stations for each camper to visit and complete. The course was designed to be specific to each camper,reflectingtheuniquenessof each journey through grief, since no two individuals grieve in exactly the same way. Our camp also included a variety of games and fun for our campers, including basketball, badminton, jumprope,hulahoops,bubbles,jacks, sidewalk chalk, horseshoes, play dough, paints, and story time. Our volunteers and staff mingled with ourcampers,ensuringthateachone was involved with an activity and all were enjoying themselves. Alloursessionsandactivitieswere led by Hospice Compassus staff and volunteers. How blessed we were to have10Colleaguesand17volunteers donatetheirtimeandenergytomake Camp Journey a great day for all the children. Without their dedication andhardwork,CampJourneywould not have been possible. As I reflect over their willingness to serve, I realizethatthoseparticipatingtruly understandourmotto:“Servingwith Heartfelt Compassion.” From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful to everyone who participated and

theroleeachindividualplayedinour camp. ANTICIPATING It’s hard to believe that it is already Spring 2011, and in just a few months we’ll once again host Camp Journey. As we look forward to this year’s camp, we’re already brainstorming to come up with new concepts. Some ideas we’re considering include opening with a slide show of last year’s camp, having a local author come and read a story, having campers decorate their own treasure chests in which they can place small mementos to remember their loved ones, and hosting a circle-time activity to allow the campers a time to reflect and share with each other. We’ve decided that we’ll repeat the opportunity for campers to make their own personal journals, and we’ll definitely once again invite their families to join us in a closing balloon release ceremony. It will inspire us anew for the next year! I think the bereaved know best what they need on their grief journeys, and I believe they need to know how valuable their experiences are for further teaching. – Sharon, Blackwell Bereavement Coordinator Prince ton/We lch, We s t Virginia 55

the shared experience

The Right Place, the Right Time Nurse Recognized for Saving Life on Highway


Debbie Rittershouse, courtsey of Bob Linder/Springfield News-Leader.

urse Debbie Rittershouse was on the way to visit her mother on Monday when she happened upon a near-fatal car crash on U.S. 65 in Ozark. A red SUV had smashed into a rock bluff just off the highway. Rittershouse, who works as a hospice nurse in Springfield, stopped to see if she could help. “I’m a nurse. Is there anything I can do?” the 52-year-old Springfield resident recalled asking the officer on the scene. Ozark Police Officer Tim Fielden had already bashed out a window on the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Inside, he saw an unresponsive woman and a badly injured girl. Fielden turned his attention to the 12-year-old, Christina Hughes. Rittershouse and Officer Nathan Lewis checked the driver for any signs of life. Debbie Deweese, 52, of Kissee Mills, didn’t have a pulse. Her face was blue and she wasn’t breathing. “We need to get her out of the car,” Rittershouse said she told the officers, who promptly followed her lead. The officers pried open the door of the SUV, pulled Deweese from the vehicle, and laid her on the ground. Ritterhouse went to work. “I hope I can get her back,” she said she thought. She carefully counted each chest compression. It had been a while since she’d performed CPR in an emergency. In fact, it had been more than two years, when she drove upon a different accident. This time on Kansas Expressway in

By Jess Rollins Reprinted with permission from the Springfield News-Leader, the Jan. 6, 2011 edition.


Springfield. A young woman had been broadsided. Rittershouse tried for 10 minutes but couldn’t save her. But on the side of the road on Monday, Rittershouse continued to hope this time would be different. After the second round of mouth-to-mouth, Deweese’s face suddenly shifted from pale blue to a lively shade of pink. “That was the most exciting thing on Earth,” Rittershouse said. “I knew then that it was gonna be OK.” When ambulance crews arrived moments later, Deweese was conscious and talking. As EMT’s worked on the two victims, Rittershouse slipped away. “I didn’t want to get in the way,” she said Wednesday. “Those guys do that stuff every day.” And while police thought the help they received was anything but routine, they didn’t know whom to thank. They even called around to area hospitals to find the Good Samaritan, but had no luck. They weren’t able to find her until a friend of hers read a story in Wednesday’s NewsLeader about the mystery woman who helped save a life. That friend called the newspaper with Rittershouse’s contact information. Rittershouse said Ozark police called her Wednesday afternoon to say thank you. Deweese had suffered two broken hips and other injuries, but her condition was stable. Her granddaughter, Hughes, received two broken ankles and may require surgery on her face, Fielden said. After leaving the accident, a shaken Rittershouse resumed her journey toward Forsyth, calling a friend and co-worker on the way. The two hospice workers shared a moment of satisfaction—in their line of work, death is nearly certain. Hospice nurses care for patients with a terminal diagnosis. All in Rittershouse’s care have six months or less to live. “It was a great feeling to actually get this one back,” Rittershouse said. everyday COMPASSION

Zeb’s Day Hospice Compassus Helps Make a Special Outing Possible By Virginia A. Chryssikos, LCSW Social Worker Welch/Princeton, West Virginia


istening to the local radio station on her way to work, Tammy Siefer heard the disc jockey announce that the Harlem Clowns, a basketball team of athletes and entertainers with former Globe Trotter players, were coming to Mount View High School in Welch, West Virginia, that very evening! Immediately Tammy thought of her dad, Hospice Compassus patient, Raymond Hatfield, and how much he loved basketball. Known as “Zeb” to family, friends, and team members, he’d been quite the star athlete of his high school team, the Jackson-Liberty Bull Pups of Amsden, Ohio. Playing center, he was their highest scorer in practically every game and was twice selected as the All-Star Regional Player by the Toledo Blade and the Toledo Times, earning him another nickname—“Hot Shot”! He was scouted by many colleges but chose to enlist and play basketball for the U.S. Marine Corps. With vivid recollections of stories that she’d heard from her father and seen in the album of newspaper clippings her mother kept, Tammy resolved to find a way to get her father to the Harlem Clowns event THAT NIGHT! First she called Coach Ed Evans at Mount View, who was responsible for organizing the event as part of an annual fundraiser for graduating seniors. He, too, was enthusiastic and recommended that she and her mother compose a short narrative highlighting her father’s basketball days. Then Tammy contacted Hospice Compassus RN, Debbie Broyles, and Director of Clinical Services, Tonya Jackson, to solicit their help. And of course she called her mother, Alice, who eagerly joined in and assisted with on-the-spot preparations. Alice and Zeb had met and married in Ohio, where Zeb worked 35 years for Whirlpool. In 1999 Zeb was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Zeb was determined to keep working as long as possible and did so until 2004, when Alice brought him back to her home town in McDowell County, West Virginia. There she lovingly cared for her husband on a full-time basis in their new home. So when Tammy called wanting Zeb to go to the Harlem Clowns game, Alice experienced a surge of memories, too. She immediately asked Zeb if he was “up” for going to a basketball game tonight! His face beamed like a child’s at a circus! Vol. 3 • No. 2

Raymond “Zeb” Hatfield, center, gets a little help from the Harlem Clowns, Marvin Hempsted and Terrelle Jones in standing for the National Anthem during a game held at Mount View High School.

Within hours the travel wheelchair was arranged by Hospice Compassus and delivered by Priority One, and Zeb and family soon found themselves seated in the front row of the Mount View gymnasium. After settling in and with the basketball court before him, an expression of familiarity seemed to make its way to Zeb’s face. The announcer began by thanking Coach Evans for organizing the event, and then he read Tammy and Alice’s notes about Zeb Hatfield’s own basketball “claim to fame.” Shouts, whistles, and applause exploded. Then came the National Anthem. Tammy saw Zeb struggling to rise, so she tapped him and said, “It’s okay, Dad, you don’t have to get up.” But the former Marine, always a Marine, was determined to stand. When two of the Harlem players noticed what he was trying to do, they rushed over to assist him. Another highlight of the event came at half time when U.S. Congressman from West Virginia, Nick Rahall, came over to shake Zeb’s hand and congratulate him on his athletic achievements and service to his country! What was particularly gratifying for Alice and the family was that the next day Zeb, who had had Alzheimer’s for 11 years, remembered going to the game and watching the Harlem Clowns play; he even recalled it for a few more days!! Raymond “Zeb” Hatfield died on December 31, 2010, at age 73. At his memorial service, Tammy described being unable to fathom standing up and giving the eulogy; but then, just as it all had “fallen” into place for Zeb to see that basketball game on November 4th, so her thoughts came together. She grasped the spiritual significance of that “meant-to-be” event, and she began speak, “…And the buzzer went off…. Zeb fought the good fight in the (basketball) game of life. He won his game, earned his crown, and is now in the Court of his Heavenly Father.” 77

hospice life - volunteers

Adieu, Ciao, but Not Goodbye

2 By Judy Ermold Volunteer – Springfield, Missouri


ue to the nature of the services they provide, hospice workers say goodbye to loved ones with painful frequency. Speaking as a longtime hospice volunteer, I never get used to parting company. And now, because my husband and I will be relocating to another city, I again struggle to find appropriate terms of farewell. “Goodbye” is the harshest word in the English language, because it implies finality. The French au revoir, German auf wiedersehen, and Spanish hasta la vista translate to “see you later.” Even adieu and adiós imply the comfort of going with God. Each of those terms conveys much more optimism than does our commonly used, slam-the-door-in-yourface “Goodbye!”


I began working as a volunteer for Hospice Compassus in March of 2002. Following training, tuberculosis testing, immunization updates, and background checks, I looked forward with excitement and anxiety to my first assignment. My major concern was whether I could help meet the needs of a terminally ill patient. The first person I visited was a quiet little woman with a serene and impenetrable demeanor. Mrs. R was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease and confined to a wheelchair. After introducing myself, I sat down next to her and attempted conversation. Because Vicki Brown, the Volunteer Coordinator, had jotted on the assignment page, “This could be a challenge,” I wasn’t sure how much, if 8

any, two-way communication would be accomplished. Undeterred, I continued chatting and asking questions, observing only occasional eye contact. Weekly visits consisted primarily of one-sided conversations and handholding. Although Mrs. R did not speak to me, her daughter considered my weekly visits to be beneficial to her mother. And, an occasional flash of possible recognition in Mrs. R’s face was encouraging. One afternoon I held Mrs. R’s hand in mine, looked her squarely in the eyes, and said, “I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying, but I assume you do. Do you understand me, Mrs. R? If you do, please squeeze my hand.” Within a few seconds, she gripped my hand with unexpected pressure. From that moment on, I was hooked on being a hospice volunteer. Since then, I have met and worked with dozens of hospice patients and their families. Each individual has a special story to tell, and each has forged a unique personal bond.


With no family to offer support, bedridden in a nursing home, my friend Millie never complained about anything. Due to failing vision, she couldn’t read, write letters, or watch TV. She was a retired teacher, now dependent on others for her comfort as well as her survival. Rather than gripe about her circumstances, Millie maintained an enviable cheerfulness. She praised the nursing staff, her neighbors, hospice, and even me for taking good care of her. During our visits we talked, we laughed, and we listened to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games together. She told me about her

husband, her sisters, and other family members – all gone. After she spoke proudly of a former student who had become a physician in a nearby community, I invited him to see Millie – and, to her delight, he came! Despite the physical challenges Millie faced daily, she made the best of the last months of her life, and she allowed me to share some of that time with her. We became “attached,” so losing Millie was as difficult as it was inevitable.


Gerhard Fiedler was a tough-as-nails German immigrant with a marshmallow heart. Held captive for seven years in a POW camp during World War II, he had returned to East Germany to rejoin his wife and daughter after the war ended. The little family would eventually risk everyday COMPASSION

Top left: Gerhard Fiedler and Judy Ermold at Gerhard’s 85th birthday party. Top right: Gerhard Fiedler and his daughter, Ingrid Morris. Left: The Fiedler family in Germany, circa 1948. Ingrid is flanked by her parents, Hildegard and Gerhard.

their lives to flee to freedom in West Germany. Later, Gerhard and his wife retired in Springfield, Missouri, to be near their daughter, Ingrid Morris. During our 10-month friendship, Gerhard enjoyed spending time with me, my husband, and our elderly dog, Auggie, whose health, like that of my patient, was declining. I remember watching Gerhard and Auggie together, both dozing as they snuggled in a chair. Gerhard was so fond of his canine pal that he placed a framed photo of the dog in his kitchen. My husband reminds me of a certain Sunday afternoon we shared with our German friend. That day Gerhard was too frail to leave his house, so our weekly outing had to be cancelled. John and I decided the least we could do was to personally deliver Gerhard’s favorite treat – vanilla soft-serve ice cream – to him. Ingrid welcomed us into the house, and we greeted her very surprised father, sitting at his kitchen table, in his robe. The old gentleman’s tired eyes widened in delight and immediately filled with tears.

Noblin, a busy professional who lived out of state. As Evelyn’s health deteriorated, Linda arranged to stay with her mother as much as possible; and she relied on supplemental services from hospice. Always specific in her instructions, Linda was understandably protective of her mother, and I hoped to meet her high expectations while visiting Evelyn. Because Evelyn loved jokes, I began printing a batch of them to give her during each visit. When she mentioned she most enjoyed the “spicy” ones, I hesitantly approached Linda for her approval to bring in the kind of jokes her mother preferred. Anticipating a swift rejection, I was surprised at Linda’s reaction: “Sure!” she replied with a wide grin. “Knowing my mom, I’d say the spicier the better!”


Raymond McCallister will always live in my heart. Although our relationship lasted only a few weeks, he was a charmer with bright blue eyes, a gentle manner, and a deep devotion to his wife, Jessie. Before my first home visit with Raymond in August 2002, Jessie grilled me in a telephone interview. She wanted to know as much as she could about the volunteer who would be staying with her husband while she was getting a haircut and picking up some groceries. We chatted on the phone for a solid hour. So, by the time

we met face to face, Jessie and I already felt well acquainted and very much at ease. We remain close today, and we consider each other to be “forever friends.”


More recently, I met and spent time with Wilma Towers and her family. She lived with her son and his wife, Terry and Janice Towers, in a home where she was comfortable, safe, and happy. While her “kids” went out for a couple hours every week, Wilma and I talked about her childhood, her family, music, social issues – no subject was out of bounds. Aware of her short-term memory loss, Wilma affectionately warned me that she would sometimes forget my name and that she would often repeat her stories. Yes, she did forget my name, and she did repeat her stories; but the advantage to her memory lapses, we agreed, was that we never ran out of conversation! (Continued on next page)

Right: Wilma Towers. Below left: At home with Linda Noblin and her mother Evelyn McCollegan. Below right: Judy Ermold and Jessie McCallister.


Evelyn McCollegan was a good-natured 90-year-old with a lively sense of humor. She lived in a complex for seniors, and her primary caregiver was her daughter, Linda Vol. 3 • No. 2



Dozens of other patients and their families have enriched my life as well. Literally, I could write a book. Often our encounters were sadly brief, as was the case as with Mr. R. I read to him as he lay on his hospital bed at home, while his daughter shopped for his burial suit at his favorite clothing store; he died the next day. Then there is the memorable grump, a centenarian who insisted on having scheduled visits from volunteers. One day he would greet me with “Good to see you!” and the next with “Get out!” Some amazing caregivers, like Mr. L, still tug at my heart, although he and his wife are gone. I marveled at the tenderness and patience that Mr. L displayed as he cared for his cancer-stricken wife. He had to be one of the best husbands in the world, and I told him so. He responded with a selfeffacing denial, “No one has ever accused me of that before.”


So many people, so many stories, so many memories. Admittedly, hospice volunteers and staff do experience a disproportionate number of goodbyes in their work, but I do not know of one who would demand a do-over. In both long-term and short-term relationships, we share our patients’ joys and sorrows in living with terminal diseases, rather than dying of them. We concentrate on quality, regardless of quantity. Now, leaving my community is very similar to saying “goodbye” to a beloved patient. The finality of that particular parting word is not acceptable at a time I yearn for continued relationships. The people I have met through hospice work – including other volunteers – are part of me, and they are in my heart, always. No matter where I live, I look forward to staying in touch with my friends in Springfield and, of course, seeing them again. So, what do I say to my buddies while my husband and I prepare to relocate? Perhaps “See you later!” or “Keep the porch light burning!” But never “Goodbye.” I think Shakespeare’s Juliet had it right: parting can be sweet sorrow – when you have a reunion to look forward to.


Volunteers: A Special Breed with Hospice T

he work of Hospice Compassus is both emotionally draining and tremendously rewarding for both staff and volunteers. These are the men and women who have stepped up to ease the process of dying – the most difficult and trying time in the life of an individual and his or her loved ones. Part of the volunteer corps of Hospice is a small group that has chosen to be at the bedside of those who have no family available in their final hours; they are called “Angels.” There are four veterans in the program – Margie Thompson, Terry Broce, Peggy Malecha, and Dick Brubaker. All but Peggy became Hospice volunteers after a loved one was a client, and she decided to volunteer after reading about it. For Dick, it was also something he could do after surgery limited his mobility. All four have a history of volunteering – Dick was with Habitat for Humanity; Terry helped at the school where her son was enrolled; Peggy just retired from helping the Rim Country Literacy Program. “No two are the same,” Terry said. “I watch the faces. You can see there are those who don’t want to be read to or touched by the way they seem to frown. I get so much from it. It’s not work, it’s an honor. We see these people at the very end, in their last few hours, but often it’s like you’ve known them forever.” “It’s such an honor to be there at that time,” Margie said. “There are things I can’t do, but this is something I can do.” She recalled the first Hospice patient she sat

By Teresa McQuerrey

Reprinted with permission from the Payson Roundup, the Dec. 3, 2010, edition. Photos taken by Andy Towle, staff photographer, Payson, Arizona.


From left to right: Margie Thompson, Terry Broce, Peggy Malecha and Dick Brubaker.

with. His granddaughter was coming to see him, but she didn’t arrive before he died. When she entered the room, no words were exchanged; it was just a look, and it said how grateful she was to Margie for being there. “What we do is not always for the patient, but also for the caregiver. Some have been with the patient so long, they’ve grown so close, it breaks their heart when the patient dies.” Margie thinks this is especially true when the patient has been in long-term care; the nurses are so appreciative of having the volunteers there. They thanked Dick so much for being there that he almost felt guilty. Dick said even though many of the patients are in a coma as they near the end, you can tell they are restless; but just having someone there seems to settle them. “It does something for me. Sometimes touching them seems to give them comfort. It makes me feel good and I am helping them.” Peggy’s first patient was a priest. Since she is Catholic, she started saying the rosary. Dick and Margie also sat with the priest; Angel volunteers have four-hour shifts, so often they care for the same individual. Dick said he spoke to the priest even though he was in a coma, saying he was a different religion and asked if he could pray for him. Of course, there was no answer, “But I felt he heard that.” Margie said she felt she couldn’t touch a priest, but then she saw the nurses brushing his hair. “I realized we are all the same,” Margie said. “With each patient I’m with, they’re teaching me not to be afraid when I go,” said Terry.

Hospice Angel I introduced myself; she did not seem aware of my presence beside her. She was restless; I held her hand with words of assurance. She used her hands to dry wash her face, as though attempting to wipe away a mist before her eyes. I spoke soothing words, as a mother would calm her child awakened from a bad dream. She raised her arms, stretching; attempting to touch something my eyes could not see. She searched, found my hand, holding it firmly. As peace settled upon soft as the morning dew, I knew at that moment my presence had helped another. By Dick Brubaker Volunteer - Payson, Arizona

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11 11

Left: Volunteer Dallas Rankins, the Cookie Man, places a batch of cookies on the

Photo by Susan W. Thurman

cooling rack.

Sweet Gestures Man Gives Time, Bakes Cookies for Hospice Center

S By Samatha Ballard Staff Writer Reprinted with permission from the Daily Herald, the April 23, 2010 edition, Columbia, Tennessee


ome volunteers work with a hammer and nails. Others work with a checkbook. Dallas Rankins prefers to work with something a little tastier. For the past seven years, Rankins has baked about 4,800 cookies a week—that’s 249,600 baked goods a year—for Hospice Compassus on Trotwood Avenue. From the office’s kitchen, Rankins sends out his creation to nursing seminars, support group meetings, and grieving families in need of some sweet relief. “I’ll probably stop doing this when the doctor looks at the undertaker and tells him it’s over,” the 68-year-old retiree said. Hospice Compassus provides advanced nursing care, home health aid, short-term inpatient care, and emotional support for people facing a life-limiting disease. They work with patients and their families to relieve symptoms, manage pain, and improve the quality of life. Rankins spends every day doing random jobs for Hospice– everything from fixing toilets to changing light bulbs. Sarita Fields, Bereavement Coordinator for Hospice Compassus, said Rankins is a true “renaissance volunteer.” “He’s one of those people that doesn’t sit still very long,” she said. “He has decided to channel his workaholism into volunteerism.” Rankins is one of the area’s many volunteers, people who

see the value in lending some time to help out someone in need. This week is Nation Volunteer Week, a time in which Americans are encouraged to pull up their sleeves and dig in for a greater good. Established by a 1974 Executive Order by President Richard Nixon, the week is designed to promote community improvement through acts of selflessness. Fields said it’s people like Rankins who make the community a better place. “We are overjoyed—elated—to have him,” she said. “Sometimes he’ll go on and on and we have to stop him and say, ‘You need to eat.’” Never one to slow down, Rankins works at least nine hours a day for Hospice Compassus, sometimes beating paid employees to the office. The volunteer bakes about 20 dozen cookies in any given day, opting for favorites like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia nut, and chocolate chunk. He is, however, open to new requests. “Just name it, and I’ve done it,” he said. Rankins said he doesn’t volunteer because he’s seeking recognition. Just having the ability to continue making a difference is reward enough, he said. “If I can do something that makes a difference every day... I’ll do what I can while I can,” he said. Despite his positive outlook on life, there is one thing that troubles the Hospice Compassus volunteer baker. “It bothers me so much when I see people who can do that don’t do,” Rankins said. “Sooner or later, somewhere in life, they’re going to cross paths with when they could, they wouldn’t, and now they want to and can’t.” Both Fields and Rankins agree there are countless local opportunities to lend a little time and some much-needed compassion. It’s just a matter of standing up, getting out, and asking someone if they need help, Rankins said. “There’s so many people who are not able to cut their yard or patch their roof, and people just sit back like there’s nothing to do,” he said. “We need to develop a sense of care.”


Spring Fling The Home Office Gets into the Spirit of Volunteering


hile our Program offices across the country have their own volunteers, Colleagues at the Home Office—where Accounting, Human Resources, and other corporate functions reside—decided they wanted to volunteer, too. So a committee was created to coordinate the effort, led by Jackie Starnes, Director of Internal Audit; LaTisha Lundy, Accounts Payable Team Lead; Lisa Shell, Director of Payroll; Jeanne Frye, Compliance RN; and me, Angela Parker, Recruiter. We called on the Volunteer Coordinator in our nearby Tullahoma office, Julia Logan-Mayes, to recommend a nursing home that uses Hospice Compassus’ services, and Julia recommended Horizon Health and Rehab in Manchester, TN. We decided to have a Spring Fling party, and we met with

Top: Amelia Parker models her new hand-painted bag. Middle: Spring Fling volunteers from left to right, LaTisha Lundy, Cassie Hill, Kelly Bradford, Renee Bradford, Angela Parker, and Amelia Parker. Bottom: Volunteers Nancy Jones and Kathleen Shea.

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Horizon’s Activities Director, Debbie Farless, to plan the event. Beginning in February, the collection box in the Home Office began filling with donated items such as puzzle books, playing cards, notepads, and toiletries, which were put in gift bags for the residents. The party was held on Saturday, April 2nd, and seven people attended on behalf of Hospice Compassus, including committee members LaTisha Lundy and Angela Parker; our Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development, Renée Bradford; Renée’s daughter, Kelly; Volunteer Coordinator, Julia Logan-Mayes; and volunteers Nancy Jones and Kathleen Shea. A very special thank you goes to Nancy and Kathleen, who took time out of their weekend to come assist us with the event! We handed out cake, punch, and gift bags to all the residents, and then visited with them for about an hour. Renée and Kelly stayed behind afterward to visit with patients who were unable to leave their rooms to participate in the cake social. My two-and-half-year old daughter, Amelia, went with us to the nursing home. She was a little afraid of the new surroundings at first; but a very sweet lady asked me if she could give her something, and of course I said, “Yes.” When I picked Amelia up and walked over to where the lady was sitting, she began taking her personal items out of a hand-painted canvas bag and then gave her beautiful bag to my daughter. I was truly humbled by her gesture to make my daughter feel welcome. Sometimes we get more out of doing something for someone else than the “someone else” does! By Angela Parker

Recruiter – Brentwood, Tennessee


Making Lemonade… What I Think Makes a Great Volunteer


s a Volunteer Coordinator, I’m constantly searching his path. He’s an intelligent, successful young man employed by for a great volunteer. If I’m out and meet people I like, West Virginia University. Together they are a kind family and I ask them if they would like to be Hospice volunteers. enjoy contributing to their community. As the angel states in In this quest I have often asked myself, “What qualities one of our favorite holiday movie classics, “Donald really does make a great volunteer, and where do I find one?” The have a wonderful life!” But it didn’t start out that way. individual would need to be compassionate, dedicated, Donald grew up in a small town; and as he says, “Jacki, we and trustworthy, as well as possessing a quality I call just didn’t have much growing up.” When he was only 8, his “sticktuitiveness.” Many times I have trained a volunteer, mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was unable to only to have him or her quickly fade away. This takes me work. They were very poor and had little to eat. During his back to my question: what key qualities elementary school years, there was no make a volunteer excel, and what fuels breakfast. What made matters worse was the drive to continue volunteering? that there was also no lunch. At that time In my search I decided to ask the there were no cafeteria meals, so all the individual who would eventually students brought packed lunches. When become my “Volunteer of the Year.” asked by the teacher why he wasn’t eating, Maybe this great volunteer could shed he replied, “I’m not hungry.” They also had some light on the subject, since he no money for clothing. Donald had only one is exemplary in every way. Donald is outfit that he wore every day and washed always early and ready to do any task on Wednesdays. Socks were also a luxury asked of him, from patient visits to they couldn’t afford. His worn, hand-meclerical work. He is always cooperative, down shoes were lined with cardboard in a Donald Barnes engaging, and brimming with a positive failed attempt to keep his feet dry. They had attitude and a kind word. While no running water and therefore no indoor performing our tasks and during our travels together, bit by plumbing. He said you could see the curtain moving from the bit and piece by piece he has shared his values, beliefs, and breeze that blew through their bedroom window. feelings. I have come to learn about his character, seeing One would think that these dire conditions would produce only glimpses at a time. something far from a compassionate, successful person, but that The same age as my father, Donald has become such a wasn’t the case. At the age of 15 Donald had found his niche, good friend that he jokingly says he and his wife would adopt and it was on the football field. By the time he turned 18 he had me! If they did, I know I’d eat well—Lora is a great cook become a high school All-American player, and he was offered and never comes to a meeting empty-handed. She always scholarships from some of the most prestigious universities in brings us a homemade entree, dessert, and delicious, freshly the country. UCLA, Duke, Ohio State, LSU, North Carolina squeezed lemonade. She, too, shares the spirit of giving. State, and the University of Tennessee came knocking on Their son has inherited his parents’ caring nature. Being Donald’s door. He accepted the offer from the University of an animal lover, he has rescued many stray animals along Tennessee at his mother’s urging, because it was closest to By Jacki McCormick

Volunteer Coordinator – Welch/Princeton, West Virginia



home. She said, “If you move too far away, we’ll never get to see you play.” Unfortunately, Donald did not get to finish his education and earn his degree. His father became ill, and he was forced to forego his education to help support his family. He became a coal miner. The danger was great but the money was good, and the family needed it. He was later employed by the Appalachian Power Company, where he would work for 32 years and from which he’d retire. Donald enjoyed a long career and has a happy marriage and a beautiful home. He also has a successful son, to whom he is very close. He had a tough start but came out a real winner in the game of life. One day I asked Donald why he became a volunteer. It seems that after he retired, he felt that he was living a wasted life. He prayed to find something to make his life worthwhile; he felt so richly blessed in his life that he wanted to bless others. When he saw that Hospice needed volunteers, he knew he’d found his answer. A “thank you” for visiting means everything to him, he says. “It feels so good to make someone smile and to bring happiness to them in their last days.” God has done so much for him that he just wants to spread that joy. Not having much growing up has given him a sense of appreciation for all that he has now. Donald didn’t have an easy childhood, but he knows that those trials molded him into a stronger, more empathetic man. The challenges could easily have made him bitter, but Donald’s positive attitude made him what he is today. There was my answer—a positive attitude! A person’s attitude can create success or failure at any task. A great volunteer will have a great attitude! It’s all about taking the bad stuff and knowing it can be turned into something good. Like the old saying goes, “If life gives you lemons…then make lemonade!” Donald did that many times during the difficult years, and he still does. Now we all get lemonade—with a little help from Lora! Thanks to both of you!

More Blessed to Give Than to Receive B

eing involved and contributing to our world was modeled by my parents. For over 25 years they were involved in 4-H, their church, and many other areas. Following in their footsteps, I became a teacher of Home Economics (Family and Consumer Science and Health) and taught for 37 years. In almost every area of teaching, I involved the students in reaching out so they would not just take and consume. I wanted them not only to experience the lessons from the classroom, but also to learn to give to the world. When it came time for retirement, I had to regroup my thinking about what was now my purpose in life. We hear over and over how we need to challenge our physical and mental faculties; I will add even our social, and especially our emotional and spiritual. It’s very easy to get up in the morning and be depressed unless we have a goal or purpose for that day. Besides working within my community, I have been to Haiti, Costa Rica, and Africa twice; and I’ll be traveling internationally again in June. It’s neat to get to know and learn about our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Since I was only an average student, one might say I don’t have any special talents or abilities. But service for others can come in many shapes and sizes. Memory Bears, wheelchair walker caddies, and adapting patients’ clothes to make it easier for them to dress involve sewing. Picture books, parties, reading the Bible, sharing stories, and listening and validating another person’s life involve other skills. It’s about just stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Even someone with health issues can provide a level of service to others. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. I Peter 4:10. The clock is ticking. We are each given only so much time here on earth. Who will be the beneficiary of your time? The following scripture has become the one that directs my life. In Acts 20:35 Paul says, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” After I realized it’s not about me, I found out that a person can become addicted to giving the blessings and receiving a blessing in return, just by watching. Doing “blessing” things can become a healthy addiction. By Phyllis Dunlap Volunteer – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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The Life & Times of a Hospice Volunteer By Dave Williams

Volunteer - Branson, Missouri


nless we give of ourselves by serving others, we can never experience the wonderful blessings of having a relationship with and serving others. Each patient we serve has a story; each has a unique situation with unique needs and unique experiences. As we serve these patients, we grow; and the blessings flow both inward and outward. I know this to be true. I recently received a certificate from Hospice Compassus for over 1100 hours as a volunteer—and what fantastic hours they have been! I’ve benefited greatly and been blessed by these brief relationships. There are dozens of people whose reunions I look forward to. The blessings I received from these beautiful people are much greater than any benefits they received from me. Hospice volunteering is the most rewarding thing I have ever done; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Dag Hammarskjold said it best: “God is so simple: always to live for others, never to seek one’s own advantage.” I remember visiting a lady who was in the active dying process, yet sitting up on


the side of her bed. I was sitting beside her, and she said, “Jesus just came in and sat on the foot of the bed. He’s come for me and I’m ready to go with Him.” I couldn’t help myself—I just had to turn around and look at the foot of the bed. I didn’t see anyone, but I don’t doubt for one second that she did! Another patient lived in an expensive townhouse. A former concert pianist, he was dying of cancer. He’d played for many years at a country club in Omaha and was a member of the Omaha Symphony. A gorgeous, hand-made, mahogany grand piano was placed prominently in the family room. I could always tell when he was having a good day—he enjoyed playing for me, and I was honored to be his everyday COMPASSION

audience. He also had a classic, antique Corvette in his garage. It was obvious this gentleman’s talents had afforded him a full lifestyle; but in the end, none of the grand and elegant “things” he had accumulated helped him make his final journey. He was very frightened of death, so we spent much of our time talking about God and life after life. My life has been enriched by this relationship, and his influence on me continues to be kept alive today through the recordings he made for me, a gift I will always treasure. Another memorable hospice patient that greatly affected me was an elderly man who lived with his unmarried sister in a two-room log cabin nestled deep in a heavily wooded and remote area of our hill country; extreme poverty was most evident. As I was making my way to his home for my first visit, my anxiety increased as the journey progressed. It was a horrible dirt road, and the “whatifs” began running through my head. With side-brush and bushes scraping the sides of my car simultaneously, I couldn’t help but wonder what was happening to the paint on my car. I then began to focus more on my tires. I was certain I was going to ruin a tire as I journeyed down this two-rut trail of rocks and pot-holes. What if...what if? My thoughts became even more somber. Being a resident of the Ozarks, I have learned one must be very careful when venturing into wooded areas on the back roads. Meth labs are numerous in the area, and their proprietors give new meaning to the term “southern hospitality.” Their greeting is usually accompanied by a rifle. Again, what if? I finally arrived at a house trailer, only semi-visible due to the masses of

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garbage piled around it. I immediately convinced myself I was going to get shot and frantically began backing my car out…all the way to the main roadway, since there was no place to turn around. I called the caregiver and told him I was lost. When I explained where I had been, he said, “Oh, that’s his brother’s house, and you were about half-way here. Just come on down the road until you come to the log cabin.” I sat in the

“The blessings I received from these beautiful people are much greater than any benefits they received from me.” car for a few minutes, trying to convince myself it would be okay, and then made my way back down the trail to the log cabin. The patient, in his 80’s, proudly let me know he was raised in this same log cabin with seven siblings—no indoor plumbing, water, gas, etc. The gentleman sat in a recliner wearing his pajamas and a cowboy hat. Our “conversation” consisted of one-word grunts for the first several visits; the most I could get out of him at first was “Yup” or “Nope.” Our visits never were what I would call conversational, but it did get better. I learned he had never learned to drive,

yet retired as janitor at a charcoal plant in Branson (some 20+ miles from his log cabin). He showed me award plaques certifying he had never missed a day of work in 26 years. In amazement, I asked him how in the world he had accomplished this feat with the rough winters we had in the Ozarks, not driving. He raised his thumb, indicating he hitched rides. He had begged rides from friends and co-workers for all those years, weather notwithstanding. That blew my mind—I would have failed the first year! He also shared a story about how he obtained another job. Someone gave him a 1940’s Sears & Roebuck publication on how to do electrical wiring. Although he had never been to school, he could read. He studied this illustrated publication and learned the trade. He began working parttime for a trailer manufacturing company doing the wiring for their manufactured homes. This was his proudest achievement in life—and quite an achievement it was! I went to the library every two weeks and checked out five or six movies to take him, and he’d watch them on a 7-inch black and white portable TV. He loved the movies and shared stories about the 30’s when his father was a deputy sheriff in Galena. He’d go with his dad to the movie theater on Saturday nights to prevent the locals from getting so worked up over the westerns; it seems they’d bring their guns and shoot at the screen! I learned a lot about this tough, hardened man who had high principles and an admirable level of comfort with where he had been and where he was going. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again—he was a wonderful human being!

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Memory Bears P

at Bottorff is a Hospice Compassus volunteer with a mission. As she says, “I can do anything with thread and a needle.” That includes quilting, knitting, sewing, and now—for Hospice Compassus in Springfield, Missouri—Memory Bears. Pat’s husband, Carl, was cared for by Hospice Compassus and died May 18, 2010. During a bereavement visit, Pat shared with me how she made fourteen Memory Bears for her family out of Carl’s shirts. I first heard of Memory Bears during a Hospice Foundation Bereavement Teleconference several years ago, and ever since I’ve wanted an opportunity to offer this project to our bereaved. Pat shared how meaningful it was for her to make the bears and remember Carl during the process. I learned more about Pat’s many talents as she showed me her quilting room and the lovely items she creates. Carl and Pat met in Everest, Kansas, in high school. Carl left to serve in World War II, and Pat went to on to receive one year of nursing training. After the war ended Carl returned home, and they married in 1949. Pat raised four children, received her real estate broker license, helped Carl in his business as a grain and feed commodity broker, worked in a bank, and was Activity Director at Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Lockwood, MO, for twelve years. And she hasn’t slowed down yet! Pat was introduced to Memory Bears by her sister, who makes them for a hospice in Arkansas. After Carl’s death, Pat made Memory Bears for her four children, six grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and one niece, as well as one for herself. As we talked about the Memory Bears, one thought led to another; and before leaving I asked Pat to think about making bears for Hospice Compassus. Three months later she called me back and said she was ready to take on this project. Pat shared, “As I make a bear, I think about the person, and I pray for them; that person is special. It helps me too. I don’t know why, but it helps.” As Pat fashions a bear from the clothing of deceased loved ones, she is creating a huggable memory. For this we thank her, on behalf of all the bereaved we serve.

Pat Bottorff and her many memory bears.

By Deborah Andrews, LMSW, CT Bereavement Coordinator – Springfield, Missouri



the shared experience

A Last Wish…or Two The Jerry Terry Family Story By Fred Richardson

Volunteer – Branson/Monett, Missouri


oets have written that true love never runs smooth. Well, that same thing could be said about life in general for most people; and for some, the road is even bumpier. This would be a fair assessment of the life of Mr. Jerry Terry, a gentleman who gave up this life on February 28, 2010, while a patient under the care of Hospice Compassus in Branson, Missouri. As the cancer was slowly destroying his body, Jerry had come to have certain regrets concerning his life, which also could be said of the vast majority who approach our final curtain. But in Jerry’s case, he did something about it. He made his wishes known to a dedicated group of caregivers who pulled off a minor miracle. To understand Jerry’s wishes, we have to go back to a time when he was a youth in California. Jerry married his high school sweetheart in 1956. Her name was Geraldine, but she went by “Jerrie.” (The similarities will grow from there.) Now comes the part where young love is a not-so-easy row to hoe. With Geraldine expecting their baby, troubles set in and they went their separate ways. Jerry would go on to marry a woman named Glenda, and together they would have two daughters and a son; but he still had not met his first child. In 1967 Jerry and Glenda also parted ways, and Jerry moved to Missouri with his children. About twelve years before his death, Jerry had begun a search for his firstborn, a son he knew only as John. He tried unsuccessfully, as did his daughter, Jerrie Traister, to locate John. Unbeknownst to them, John was also trying from California to locate his father, but his efforts were also fruitless. The impact of having a

lost son became very real when tragedy struck Jerry’s family: his daughter lost her 20-year-old son in an auto accident. Jerrie Traister’s search led her through birth records and divorce papers for Jerry and his first wife, but all led to dead ends. Then the newly formed Hospice Compassus Dream Team stepped in. In a joint effort involving Diane Hasler, Social Worker in Branson, and a real sleuth in the person of Dorothy Blinzler, Volunteer Coordinator in the Monett office, Mrs. Traister’s puzzle pieces began to fall in place. Dorothy gives considerable credit to the cooperation she received from the State Library of California, which assisted in the search at no cost. It turned out that much of the dilemma centered on Geraldine’s having changed John’s last name to her second husband’s name. Surprisingly, it was through John’s half brother Joseph that they were able to locate John. It was then discovered that Geraldine had given John his father’s middle name, Edward. But time was running out for Jerry Terry; and as his days grew short, he asked that if the Dream Team wasn’t able to connect him with his lost son, they would at least bring his children together so they might know one another. The detective work intensified as they fought time, which knows no schedule. On February 28th his fight was over...and two days later John was found. While the folks at Hospice Compassus were unable to fulfill Jerry’s first dream, they hit a home run with his second, that of connecting his family. John was elated to discover that he had not only a half brother but two half sisters, and the joy he feels is the culmination of that second wish. Jerry Terry’s family has become more complete.

Jerry Terry, far right, at his baptism in October 2009, with daughter Jerrie Traister, left, and Terry Lansdale, Pastor of the Carpenter’s House.

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care-team spotlight

Making a Difference By Corey Giddings Hospice Care Consultant Cedar Rapids, Iowa


r. Mark Dearden, Medical Director in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has served patients in the area since 2003. In addition to working with Hospice Compassus, he is currently assigned to the Vinton Medical Clinic and the Virginia Gay Hospital. He is also the supervising physician at the Van Home Family Medical Clinic. Dr. Dearden is the medical director of three Benton County nursing homes. As Medical Director, his goals include getting the word out about hospice, educating staff, and being available to his team and staff. Dr. Dearden was first introduced to hospice care when he was working as an RN in Des Moines; and during his residency in Wisconsin, he became involved with the local hospice. When he moved to Vinton, he started out with a busy nursing home practice. His choice to work with Hospice Compassus was based on the assistance we provide to nursing home patients. What he likes most about hospice is the availability and adaptability of the team. According to Corey Giddings, Hospice Care Consultant, “When I visit Dr. Dearden at his clinic, he always greets me with a smile and a handshake. He is always very interested in answering questions and giving good feedback. He takes the time to listen, even when he is very busy with his patients. You can see during our team meetings how well respected he is by the other Hospice staff. I’ve received several compliments from nursing home staff on how courteous he is during his physician visits. He is definitely a great fit for our Hospice Compassus team.” Dr. Dearden envisions hospice as having a growing role in the 20

He is a good teacher and listener, and he’s very passionate about his patients and his work.

future of healthcare. “We bring meaning and comfort to the end-of-life experience for our patients and their families, through clinical excellence and compassionate care that touches on all aspects of life – physical, emotional, and spiritual.” He encourages patients to be proactive in their healthcare by discussing end-of-life issues before there’s an immediate need, and he stresses the need to talk with other family members about one’s wishes.


Susan Keiper, RN Case Manager, commented, “I love working with Dr. Dearden because he’s very knowledgeable and he shares his knowledge with the rest of the Hospice team. He is a good teacher and listener, and he’s very passionate about his patients and his work. He’s got a great sense of humor and is very trustworthy. He is an overall great guy to work with. I know the whole team appreciates him very much.” Dr. Dearden has been married since 1993 and has four children. He doesn’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but he and his wife like to collect and restore antique furniture. As a family they are busy with school activities and enjoy family vacations. They like to swim, be outside, and work on the yard. Dr. Dearden received his Doctor of Osteopathy from Des Moines University– College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines, Iowa; a Bachelor of Science, Human Services (cum laude) from Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa; and his Diploma in Nursing (RN) from Iowa Methodist School of Nursing in Des Moines, Iowa. He completed a family practice residency at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. He is board certified in Family Medicine by the American Board of Family Practice. He is affiliated with the Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association, Iowa Academy of Osteopathic Family Physicians, Iowa Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Family Medicine, American Osteopathic Medical Association, and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Dearden is very active in the community, as evidenced by his position as chairperson of the Benton County Board of Health and his service as Deputy Benton County Medical Examiner. He also volunteers at Vinton Shellsburg Schools and serves on several committees at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. We are privileged to have Dr. Dearden as part of our Iowa Hospice Compassus team.

Vol. 3 • No. 2

“I Love Granma”

was scrawled

in crayon on a card placed on her dresser. A bouquet of mixed flowers struggled to keep from wilting on her bedside table. A light over her bed revealed a ghostly pale, gaunt figure lying very still, except for an occasional slight jerk as if someone or something were startling her. She slept with eyes slightly open, a crown of wispy gray hair adorning her head. Her breaths were shallow but unlabored. Prongs of oxygen tubing went across her face, around her ears, and down to adjust at the front of her neck. I spoke her name softly, half wanting her to answer and half not wanting to awaken her. A plaque over her bed said, “The heart is like a treasure chest that’s filled with souvenirs. It’s there we keep the memories we gather thru the years.” It had come to this— a time to die. Long ago her mind had begun to deteriorate. Strength had slowly left until there was no ability to get up at all. Her frail body no longer required food, and finally she had quit taking fluids. Even now when I passed a mouth swab across her lips, they closed and wouldn’t allow the care I so desperately wanted to give her. As I sat at her bedside, my mind wandered. What was her past? What had she liked to do? Did she dance and sing when she was young? How and when did she fall in love? How many children did she birth and nurture into adults? Did she love to sew and cook? Suddenly her upper body trembled and soft murmurs escaped her throat. I reached out and took her hand, and less than a minute later she was calm once again. When the nurse came to check and turn her, I could see she had wasted away to a skeleton covered with thin skin. Sometimes I reached over and softly stroked her cheek. “God loves you,” I whispered, and prayed she could hear me. A few times her eyes opened more and I saw her lips move. What was she seeing? What was she saying? There was no struggle and no sign of pain. She was a stranger to me, yet I wanted her to know she wasn’t alone. Her family could not be with her at this time, but I could and I wanted to be there. Life is a mystery. Between birth and death is a variable span of time. We are commanded by God to love our neighbor as ourselves. I chose to love this neighbor by being with her as her life ended. Thank you, Lord, for her life and for life itself. Thank you, Lord, for your love, mercy, grace, and compassion. I also thank you, Lord, for this opportunity.


By Ellen Arnce

Volunteer – Joplin, Missouri


The Power of a Golden Heart C

By Aimee Hartley Director of Sales Jefferson City, Osage Beach, Columbia, & Macon, Missouri


ompassion, Integrity, Excellence: these are our Company’s three core values and the qualities we at Hospice Compassus look for in a “Golden Heart.”Youmaybeaskingyourself,“Whatdoesthatmean?”Thisexploration has turned into one of the most rewarding quests of my professional career. Recently our local staff took the Golden Heart philosophy and spread it throughout the community by engaging the people we work with every day. The spirit caught on immediately. Nurses, social workers, and chaplains were coming in daily with nominations from our long-term care facilities, hospitals, and other healthcare agencies. Here are just two of the comments we received about the nominations in our community: “She always shows such compassion to every resident she sees and to our staff.” “Her kind and gentle words, as well as her prayers, were greatly needed for a family.” It was my pleasure to inform the nominees, and their response has been amazing! As I delivered a “Golden Heart,” along with some yummy chocolates (our little gift of gratitude), I was surprised at their reactions. Through the simple act of telling individuals how much they are appreciated, I brought tears to their eyes. One nurse said, “I have never been recognized for anything I have ever done in nursing care!” She gave me a huge bear hug! Delivering the nurse’s “Golden Heart” led me to one of the most satisfying feelings of my life. Even though I was only the messenger, I made a difference in someone’s life by acknowledging the true characteristics of compassion and excellence she delivers to her patients every day! Recently I was called to a facility that had heard about our “Golden Hearts” and wanted to nominate one of our nurses. As I listened to the growing list of compliments, one of their staff members entered the room. This person, who had not been present for most of the conversation, asked, “Did this nurse die or something?” We all looked at her in amazement, not knowing what to say. She read our body language and continued, “Well, we usually only recognize how great and wonderful someone is when we are reminiscing about their life!” This was an “Ah-Ha!” moment for me; she was right! Through the power and inspiration of our Golden Hearts, we are able to recognize—while they’re still alive!—more and more people who help improve the quality of life of others, as we spread the word of Compassion, Integrity, and Excellence.


hospice life - volunteers

A Mother’s Love By Jacki Reese Hospice Aide – Peoria/Galesburg, Illinois


s I walked into our new patient’s apartment, I first noticed that her hospital bed was located in the main living room, as with most of our patients. I then noticed the toys—video games and musical instruments, along with other items, indicating that a child lived here. “Mary” was younger than average and had a tenyear-old daughter. We sat and discussed her diagnosis and what would happen as it progressed. She was most worried about her little girl. I asked about the little girl’s father, and she told me he had passed away very unexpectedly of a massive heart attack a few years earlier. My heart broke for this little girl, who was now going to lose her mother. Mary went on to explain that she had guardians to care for her daughter when the time comes, but she was worried about how this would affect her as the disease progressed. Mary was already in bed most of the time and slept often. When I asked if there was anything special she would like to do with her daughter before her illness progressed further, Mary said she wanted to make as many memories as possible for her little girl to carry with her. And it concerned her very much that her daughter did most of her activities in the living room. Since Mary no longer used her own bedroom, she wanted to convert it to a playroom; then her daughter could have friends over to play and Mary could still rest. This was a perfect project for our Dream Team! As soon as our team heard the story, everyone was more than willing to help. With the assistance of Hospice Compassus’ Community Hospices of America Foundation and other donations, we were on our way! After approving all the details with Mary, we arranged for her daughter to spend the weekend with Vol. 3 • No. 2

her grandmother so we could go to work. Volunteers and staff soon arrived to start the transformation. We made sure Mary was a part of deciding what went into storage, what was to be donated, and what to throw away. She was very excited to be able to help with all the work. When the room had been cleared, we started bringing in the new items for the play room. In addition to a TV/DVD and Wii game system, brightly colored chairs and rugs, several posters, and even a black light (which Mary said would be a huge hit) decorated the space. We even found a framed photograph of Mary and hung it on the wall. When the work was done, Mary came in to see the room. She broke into tears as she looked at all that had been done. She was so thankful for the love shown to her and her daughter. She was also looking forward to playing the Wii with her little girl; since her hands did not work quite as well as they used to, this would be easier. Mary thanked us one by one as we left her apartment, tears gleaming in her eyes. We didn’t want to be there when her daughter arrived home, because this was a moment for a memory to be made between mother and daughter. Several days later a call came into our office from this wonderful little girl, who wanted to thank all of us for all we had done. In reality, it was all of us who were thankful—thankful for the opportunity to help and thankful for the memory we have to carry with us of a mother’s love. 23

A Friend of the Family T

By Cara Blair Volunteer Joplin, Missouri

he Joplin, Missouri, Hospice Compassus office is home to a very dedicated team of volunteers who are specially trained to provide support to our patients and their family members during the last hours of life. This group is called the Alliance of Neighbors Giving End-of-Life Support, or ANGELS for short. Our “Angel Team” is a close-knit group of seasoned volunteers who are united in the belief that no one should pass from this life alone. Angels are on call at all times, day or night. Each of us has learned that there is no such thing as a typical call. Other Hospice volunteers typically visit their patients on a weekly basis. These visits occur in either the patient’s home or long-term care facility, and enduring friendships are usually formed with the patient as well as other family members. As I and other members of the Angel team know, a different dynamic is present during an Angel visit. We like to say that we meet the most wonderful people during one of the most stressful times of their lives.

Cara Blair’s daugher, Caitlynne, and Eddie Underwood at Caitlynne’s induction ceremony to Phi Theta Kappa. Caitlynne is also a volunteer for Hospice Compassus.


While our visits are no less welcomed and appreciated, they are, by their very nature, not conducive to the forming of friendships. Our team members care deeply for the patient as well as the family, but we know that our time with them will probably be very brief. With this knowledge, I responded to a long-term care facility in July 2009. As I entered our patient’s room, I expected that I would share a very intimate experience with the family as they said goodbye to their loved one. I would visit with them, pray with them, and attempt to help them deal with their loss. I was scheduled to stay with the family for three hours until another volunteer would arrive. Just as the pattern had repeated itself many times before, I would offer a final hug, share a last word of encouragement, and be on my way. I knew I would think of the family often during the next few days, but I’d probably never see them again. The one thing I had not counted on, however, was the tenacity of this family’s patriarch. Almost four months after his wife’s passing, I received a call from Mr. Underwood at my home. He had made note of my last name and had called everyone in the phone book who shared it. He said he had a card for me and asked for my address. I was surprised and very flattered by his call. I eagerly awaited his card and was humbled by the length to which he had gone to simply say “thank you.” Many other cards and calls would pass between us. “Mr. Underwood” became “Ed;” and soon I was told to call him “Eddie,” because “that’s what my friends call me.” I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when the 87-year-old everyday COMPASSION

World War II veteran and this 45-yearold hospice volunteer became friends. Perhaps it was during a phone call just to say “hi.” Maybe it occurred over an impromptu lunch when he happened to be coming to town, or quite possibly our friendship grew as I sat listening to one of his many stories. Eddie was born in Alabama, was drafted into World War II, and served as the personal driver for Mamie Eisenhower for two years while stationed in Washington, DC. He and his lovely wife, Lynn, raised four daughters and numerous foster children during their 64 years of marriage. The relationship they shared continues to serve as a shining example of love and devotion to all who knew them. In the time since Lynn passed away, Eddie has, indeed, become a friend not only to me but to my husband and children as well. We have shared meals, laughter, and sometimes tears. We have sat side by side at bereavement support groups, veterans’ celebrations, and events at the college my children attend. We started our journey as strangers, became friends, and now consider each other family. As Angel team volunteers, we are committed to providing comfort to our patients and their families. We offer spiritual, emotional, and physical support to them during our time together. When our visit comes to an end, we leave hoping that we have helped but knowing we will probably not see them again. Eddie Underwood changed my perception. I am blessed by his friendship. He has become a steadfast source of encouragement not only for me, but for our entire staff as well. Whether he is breezing through the office with a plate full of his trademark chocolate chip cookies or calling me just to say “hi” and share a story, he serves as a constant reminder of one of God’s most precious gifts— a friend. I am blessed to call him my friend and will forever be grateful to Hospice for allowing us to meet. Vol. 3 • No. 2

Thank You, Angels My loved one is preparing to go and I am in despair, I need to leave at times, I can’t always be there. But wait, here comes the “Angel” My heart rejoices more than I can tell. I can freely leave and know in my heart, My loved one won’t be alone should they depart. The loving kindness I feel as the “Angel” comes in, Blesses my heart over and over again! The ministry of their ‘presence of being’ is so warm, It is like the rudder of a ship in a storm. There is a calming assurance supportive and strong, My being away now doesn’t seem so wrong. I can go with peace in my heart, Knowing my loved one will not alone depart. Someone will be there; their hand to hold, Should they cross over into riches untold. Dear Lord, for these “Angels” I thank you, Oh, what a love so very true. Love of mankind in such abundance, Thank you for such a blessed assurance. For each “Angel” that has given so much from your heart, I know many heavenly Angels will be there when it is your time to depart! Just know you are so much loved indeed, Thank you for being there in a great time of need! By Jo Ann Beasley

Angel Volunteer - Branson/Monett, Missouri 25

lessons from the field

Jesus to Her How our Team of Care Helped a Patient Get Back on her Feet


s a chaplain, I’ve heard a lot of people’s stories. But Mrs. Leona Simmons, one of my first patients at Hospice Compassus, had a story that touched my heart immediately and in a way that hasn’t happened since. Mrs. Simmons’ case was introduced at my first Interdisciplinary Team meeting, and she By Betty Bricker sounded so intriguing I decided to visit her Chaplain Shreveport, Louisiana that very week. When I arrived she was home Mrs. Leona Simmons alone, a tiny African-American woman who walked slowly and looked down most of the time. She didn’t make sure the evacuees ate first before they took eye contact until she got to know me well enough to tell her story, their own place in line. Mrs. Simmons made the best of the and even then her eyes held mine only briefly. Mrs. Simmons was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New situation and was excited to see animals not Orleans. She had lived west of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, seen in New Orleans, “like rabbits, deer, and in an area called Algiers. She’d been a homemaker with no children even skunks.” One day members of a church came and of her own, but she cared for all her nieces and nephews while her family members worked. interviewed families to live in a house they She was happy in her home, even after her had available. Mrs. Simmons and her family husband died; her home was paid for, she received the house and moved in.The church lacked for nothing, and she considered herself people were extremely good to them and gave her family everything they needed. blessed. Mrs. Simmons was homesick, but she When Hurricane Katrina hit she, along with didn’t know what shape her home was in. her niece and nephew, walked to the ferry; the Coast Guard met them, put them on Some people at the church checked on the the ferry, and gave them Army rations to eat. computer and told them her niece’s house Then buses came, and they were given food was underwater, but her house looked fine. and water and taken across the Huey P. Long So another niece came and took her back to Bridge to the airport, where they boarded New Orleans. Mrs. Simmons had insurance, a plane. Mrs. Simmons had never been on a so she thought she could get the house back Above: Yoshua Oliver, left, plane before and was excited to sit by the window so she could tell in shape if anything was wrong. But then Hurricane Rita came through, and Rev. Betty Bricker. her great-niece all about it. She didn’t know where she was going; and when they landed at the Air Force base in Smyrna, Tennessee, and many more people left. She found there were a lot of volunteers. She had to register and prove who herself alone, with no friends or family, and she was, and they gave her a set of scrubs to put on. They allowed became sick. After a hospital stay she went the families to stay together but separated the rest into male and to a rehabilitation hospital. Another family female. They were given three meals a day, and the airmen were member offered to take her in and help very kind. One way they showed their kindness was that they made her. She agreed to go with this person, who



then took her power of attorney, stole all she had, and abandoned her with another family member; now she is broke and sick with cancer. Later Mrs. Simmons found out that this person had taken out loans in her name, and she owed lots of money. I asked her what would help her to find peace in her last days. She looked straight into my eyes and said, “I want to go back to New Orleans; and when the time comes, I want to be buried in the family mausoleum.” She showed me a burial plot receipt and some burial insurance for a New Orleans funeral home. Back in the Interdisciplinary Team meeting, we began to brainstorm. Mrs. Simmons had spoken of going to a nursing home in her old neighborhood, so our Social Worker checked out the availability. We then contacted the Hospice Compassus office in New Orleans about a transfer of services. A family member agreed to arrange transportation to get Mrs. Simmons to New Orleans. Since she was concerned that she didn’t have the proper clothing and shoes, the Shreveport office staff opened their hearts and bought shoes, clothing, and toiletries so she could go in style. When I went to tell her goodbye, she was ready to go in the new navy outfit and shoes I’d given her. Her other things were in a brand new bag from the Social Worker; her toiletries, given by her Aide, Yoshua Oliver, were right on top. She was so proud of all her new things and the love Hospice Compassus of Shreveport had bestowed on her. Mrs. Simmons is now in New Orleans, and I still keep in touch with her. She walks down the halls and makes eye contact, and she serves others in the nursing home by helping wherever she can. She reads her Bible and says she has forgiven all who used her unkindly, because it all came together for Hospice Compassus to be “Jesus to her.” We never know when we will be called by God to entertain angels unaware, but this was certainly one of those cases; and I consider myself blessed to have been put into the presence of Mrs. Leona Simmons.


Precious Jewels

’ve been a hospice volunteer for several years now, first in Hawaii after being gently nudged by a friend who is a hospice nurse there, and most recently in Fulton, MO. Many years ago I was invited to visit a friend’s mother who was a patient in one of the hospice clinics near Chicago, and I was truly amazed at the care the patients received—not only from the nursing staff, but also from the volunteers. At the time I was just stupefied as to how someone could handle such a weighty position, to be with patients who are so near the end of their lives, not to mention the terrible pain the families were feeling at the loss of their loved ones. The volunteers were calm and quiet and always present, no matter what the situation involved. I think that first encounter with hospice led me eventually to volunteer myself; and it was, of course, one of the best things I have ever done. I’ve met some incredible people from all walks of life, with a smattering of every possible belief in what happens when we pass on. The consensus seems to be that death is not the end, nor is it a failure; it’s graduation! The patients on the whole are ready to leave their lives on earth. They have been so ill for so long, and they’re tired and relieved to go. Most of the pain I see is that which the family is feeling, not being ready to let go of the people they love so much; but that’s where our work is also important, to be there as support and a calm and quiet presence of reassurance for both the patient and the family. My experiences with hospice have all been so different, depending on the patient and family, and all of the stories will reside in my heart for many years to come. Recently I had the shock of my life while on my way to visit a patient in a nursing home. I’d been seeing her for several months, so a lot of the other patients had become familiar to me and I to them. As I was walking down the hall, one of the ladies in a wheelchair called me over, and we chatted for a few minutes. I complimented her on a beautiful bracelet she was wearing. She was very pleased that I mentioned it and started turning it on her wrist, telling me about the lady who had given it to her. My heart began to pound when I saw one of the pieces on the bracelet. It seemed so familiar, very similar to some of my mother’s jewelry. I asked her, trying to remain calm, where she had gotten the bracelet. At that moment she said, “My friend, Carol, made it for me.” All at once everything fell into place! Now I remembered having taken a bunch of Mom’s costume jewelry to the consignment shop after she died. That had been 6 months earlier, and I’d totally forgotten about it. As I told her about Mom’s earrings and the pieces on her bracelet, we both got chills and goose bumps at the astronomical coincidence of her calling me over while she was wearing the bracelet, and my noticing it. I even went back the next day to take a picture! That day changed my life (again). After realizing how much I missed Mom and the rest of my family, I’ve decided to put my house on the market and move back to New England to be closer to my brothers. Of course, I’ll call the local hospice as soon as I’m settled!

By Pamela Steenburg Vol. 23 • No. 12

Volunteer — Columbia/Macon, Missouri


Sharpening the Saw A Balanced Life

Every day our Colleagues offer hope and compassion to the patients and families they serve, but they also do much more. Sharpening the Saw illustrates many of the ways they live a balanced and fulfilled life by taking the time to renew themselves.

Signs of Well Being The JefCo Bereavement Program can be extremely busy and challenging. There are over 700 bereaved families and friends on service at any given time. Between sympathy cards, mailings, and phone calls and visits to those grieving, things can weigh a little heavy on our hearts. Even in this atmosphere of death, grief, and loss, we choose every day to come to work and spread happiness and joy; sometimes it may just be a little, but we try. Debbie Coots, Program Assistant, and I, Jackie Bustamante, Bereavement Coordinator, share an office and like to fill it with humor and kindness. We find humor where we can, and in turn we laugh out loud a lot. We try to serve others and spread fun and kindness, sprinkled with optimism. We have found that filling the “buckets”

of others (Colleagues, grieving families, patients)—with kind words, notes of thanks and appreciation, and humor when appropriate—goes a long way. We’ve organized an occasional office carry-in breakfast or lunch, surprised our Executive Director, Sarah Willson, with her own blue wig to wear at our WIG meetings, and offered hugs to those in need (sometimes each other). All of this can make such a wonderful difference! These simple acts can really work to fill our own “buckets” much more than we imagined. Jackie Bustamante Bereavement Coordinator Je ffe rson City /Osage Be ach, Missouri

Back row: Betsy Davidson, MCD; Brenda Kafka, DCS; Jackie Bustamante, Bereavement Coordinator; Debbie Coots, Program Assistant. Front row: Sarah Willson, ED.

My Bucket List l. Received my Licensed Professional Counselor license This was a long-time goal of mine. 2. Went to Egypt!!!! Had a great time! 3. Sang a solo Top left: The pyramids in Egypt. (Susan I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve done Simonds, center, in the bright blue shirt.) a little karaoke, but never a raw solo. Bottom left: Riding camels on a moonlight After I sang to one of my patients, her excursion to the pyramids. Above: Standing at the bottom of a pyramid. family asked me if I would sing at her funeral, so I did. From there I branched out to singing at our annual Memorial Service. The sky’s the limit now! 4. I helped start “A Course in Miracles” meeting in Galesburg. This stems from a group that I attend every Monday night in Peoria, Illinois. Susan Simonds – Chaplain Gale sb urg/Pe oria, Illinois



Make a Difference in Someone’s Life Become a Volunteer Today!! If you are compassionate, caring, loving, and have a calling to help others, becoming a hospice volunteer might be the perfect opportunity for you. Our volunteers give their time, talent, and hearts generously and unselfishly – yet commonly feel that they receive more than they give. Some of our volunteers have experienced hospice care through a loved one’s illness; all use their giving hearts to serve and touch a life in its final chapter.

What is Required? All Hospice Compassus volunteers are required to attend a training session. After training is completed, volunteers determine how much time they can commit to hospice work. Whether dedicating as little as two hours a month or six hours a week, all efforts are appreciated and much needed.

Volunteers provide some of the following services: • Friendly visits • Writing letters • Light housekeeping • Reading to patients • Running errands • Meal preparation • Office/administrative support • Patient caregiver relief • Emotional & spiritual support • Assisting with grief support groups • Helping with health fairs / community education • And so much more!

Contact Us If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call a convenient location listed on the back of the magazine and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator. You can also visit our website at www.hospicecom.com for more information.


Start making a difference today!


Vol. 3 • No. 2


E X C E L L E N C E29

L O C AT I O N S ARIZONA 1225 Hancock Road, Ste. 200 Bullhead City, AZ 86442 (928) 763-6433

LOUISIANA 3212 Industrial Street Alexandria, LA 71301 (318) 442-5002

1675 E. Monument Plaza Circle Casa Grande, AZ 85122 (520) 421-7143

8280 YMCA Plaza Drive, Bldg. 3, Ste. B Baton Rouge, LA 70810 (225) 768-0866

1000 N. Humphrey’s Street, Ste. 220 Flagstaff, AZ 86001 1438 South College Road (928) 556-1500 Lafayette, LA 70503 (337) 235-8690 1789 W. Commerce Drive Lakeside, AZ 85929 2213 Justice Street (928) 368-4400 Monroe, LA 71201 (318) 322-0062 511 S. Mud Springs Road Payson, AZ 85541 2424 Edenborn Avenue, Ste. 230 (928) 472-6340 Metairie, LA 70001 (504) 834-1655 70 Bell Rock Plaza, Ste. A Sedona, AZ 86351 8660 Fern Avenue, Ste. 145 (928) 284-0180 Shreveport, LA 71105 (318) 524-1046 1025 W. 24th Street, Ste. 15 Yuma, AZ 85364 770 Gause Blvd, Ste. C (928) 344-6100 Slidell, LA 70458 (985) 639-8000 ILLINOIS 755 N. Henderson Street MICHIGAN Galesburg, IL 61401 30665 Northwestern Hwy., (309) 342-3007 Ste. 150 Farmington Hills, MI 48334 2000 W. Pioneer Parkway, Ste. 24 (248) 355-9900 Peoria, IL 61615 (309) 691-0280 MISSISSIPPI 140 North 5th IOWA McComb, MS 39648 3409 Cedar Heights Drive (601) 250-0884 Cedar Falls, IA 50613 (319) 291-9000 725 Front Street Ext., Ste. 850 Meridian, MS 39301 610 32nd Avenue SW, Ste. F (601) 483-5200 Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (319) 362-2500 300 Highland Blvd, Ste. G Natchez, MS 39120 1850 East 53rd Street, Ste. 1 (601) 442-6600 Davenport, IA 52807 (563) 359-3666 141 Highway 90 Waveland, MS 39576 KANSAS (888) 667-2796 200 East Centennial, Ste. 9 Pittsburg, KS 66762 (620) 232-9898

MISSOURI 3044 Shepherd of the Hills Expy, Ste. 200 Branson, MO 65616 (417) 335-2004

SOUTH CAROLINA 500 Jeff Davis Drive Spartanburg, SC 29303 (864) 542-2536

3050 I-70 Drive SE, Ste. 100 Columbia, MO 65201 (573) 443-8360

TENNESSEE 1412 Trotwood Avenue, Ste. 5 Columbia, TN 38401 (931) 381-4090

600 Monroe Street, Suite 100 Jefferson City, MO 65101 (573) 556-3547

1805 N. Jackson, Suites 5 & 6 Tullahoma, TN 37388 (931) 455-9118

2650 E. 32nd Street, Ste. 100 Joplin, MO 64804 (417) 623-8272

TEXAS 7000 N. Mo Pac Expy., Ste. 2070 Austin, TX 78731 (512) 514-6610

303 Missouri Street, Ste. A Macon, MO 63552 (660) 385-4400 845 Highway 60, Ste. A Monett, MO 65708 (417) 235-9097 807 N. Main, Ste. 1 Mountain Grove, MO 65711 (417) 926-4146 4681 Osage Beach Parkway, Unit 16 Osage Beach, MO 65065 (573) 348-1566

1610 James Bowie Drive, Ste. A105 Baytown, TX 77520 (281) 837-9200 12222 Merit Drive, Ste. 1240 Dallas, TX 75251 (972) 690-6632 1770 St. James Place, Ste. 330 Houston, TX 77056 (713) 850-8853 1100 Gulf Freeway, Ste. 122 League City, TX 77573 (281) 316-7777

270 Chestnut Street Osceola, MO 64776 (417) 646-2650

901 North McDonald, Ste. 200 McKinney, TX 75069 (972) 548-1600

1465 E. Primrose Springfield, MO 65804 (417) 882-0453

7001 Boulevard 26, Ste. 500 North Richland Hills, TX 76180 (817) 590-9623

1406 Kentucky Avenue, Ste. 100 West Plains, MO 65775 (417) 256-4127

4204 Woodcock Drive, Ste. 240 San Antonio, TX 78228 (210) 731-0505

NEW MEXICO 6000 Uptown Blvd., NE, Ste. 104 Albuquerque, NM 87110 (505) 332-0847

WEST VIRGINIA 100 Hilltop Lane Princeton, WV 24740 (304) 431-2000

PENNSYLVANIA 711 N. York Road, 2nd Floor Willow Grove, PA 19090 (215) 659-5920

66 Elkins Street Welch, WV 24801 (304) 436-2300