May 2, 2017
Moore Mission Moments - The Watershed Group

Let's Celebrate Volunteers!

by Patti Moore


It’s National Volunteer Week; and time to celebrate! This past week, I was in Cleveland working with the Hospice of the Western Reserve.  They held two banquets celebrating their 3,000 remarkable volunteers.  The speaker was local Clevelander, Alex Sheen, founder of “Because I Said I Would” movement for the “…betterment of humanity through promises made and kept”.  HWR realizes their volunteers play an enormous role in the success of their organization and offer volunteer opportunities in many, many areas of their organization.


What are our volunteer’s worth? According to a recent report by the nonprofit coalition, Independent Sector, more than 63 million Americans volunteered about 8 billion hours, which would equate to about $193 billion based on that hourly value. In Hospice, we literally could not do what we do without their willing and enthusiastic support.  As you know, hospice is the only Medicare option that requires the use use volunteers!  Showing them how valued they are is vital.  

How robust is your volunteer program?  When I work with a hospice and conduct my consulting assessments, one of the first areas I ask about is the volunteer department: How many volunteers do you have? What kinds of things do the volunteers do for hospice? What I find is the greater the number of volunteers and the broader the opportunities you can provide for them to contribute, the more healthy and active the organization will be. And a happy, fulfilled volunteer is one of your hospice’s most effective ambassadors in the community.


Are you offering meaningful and varied opportunities for your volunteers to contribute? Volunteers want their work to have value and purpose, and hospice is a remarkable place to achieve that. Hospices all over the country are using volunteers in so many creative ways, such as creating life review videos, working with kids’ programs, offering choral groups and of course, advisory boards, fund raising and so much more. At our hospice in Gainesville, Florida, local artists and musicians volunteered to provide performances and art exhibits. Volunteers can greet visitors, create gardens, or help in the kitchen; they can deliver holiday meals, help with grant writing or galas - or perhaps most importantly, be present with a patient, hold their hand and listen.


Teenage volunteers in hospice are on the rise.  As I toured the Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Care Center, the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies drew me to the kitchen, where I found a group of girls from the local high school. They told me that once a week they come to bake cookies for the families and patients and they love it. 


Do your volunteers feel valued?  When I see hospices that have a volunteer department that is four or more degrees of separation from the CEO/ED on the organizational chart that suggests that the organization may not recognize the importance of volunteers.  An active voice for the volunteers on the leadership team is crucial, and will ensure volunteers are valued in deep and meaningful ways.


As hospice receives less and less money from Medicare, and as more baby boomers enter active retirement, matching volunteers with patient needs will be vital.  Providing a great volunteer experience for your community partners makes for more community engagement and support – and will inspire a steady flow of inspired and inspiring volunteers to help support your mission and the people you serve. 


 Hospice of the Western Reserve's volunteer Walk to Remember 2017vol-comm-banner.jpg



So many wonderful volunteers, so much loving service! These stories of creative volunteers making a difference will inspire you:


A bright young woman’s efforts brought the gift of communication to every patient in this hospice:

This girl scout’s project was providing 55 iPhones, all loaded with music and the FaceTime app, for every patient at the Hope Hospice of Rhode Island’s Care  Centers to enjoy. Sloan is a member of Girl Scout Troop #40913 in Westfield and a freshman at Providence College in Rhode Island.


"I was thinking of ways to help people de-stress and researched music as beneficial for patients," explained Sloan of her project, which she developed over a period of about 18 months and executed last summer. "I'm happy I could help such an amazing organization in this way."


A hospice volunteer’s visits brings memories of happier times to a dementia patient – and respite to her caregiver:

"Beryl Davis, 85, lay silently in bed, staring vacantly at a television in her home in Chandler. She’s in the late stages of dementia/Alzheimer‘s disease and her body is ravaged by age and health problems. But her days have bright spots when she gets a visit from Carol Walliser, of Edom. Walliser is a special volunteer known as a “memory care connector” with the Hospice of East Texas, headquartered in Tyler. 


Walliser pulls out a book for memory-challenged adults. She thumbs through it and reads aloud while showing Davis colorful pictures. Davis’ whole face lights up with a broad, bright smile and her eyes sparkle briefly. Walliser aims to connect with Davis through the senses of hearing, feeling, taste and touch. She also sometimes sings hymns, blows up a balloon, plays music, lets Davis feel the dangles on a soft pillow and massages her hands with lotion.



What can volunteers do? What can’t they do? Our clients weigh in:


Big Bend Hospice’s Volunteer Department Manager Sharon Davidson talks about the myriad ways in which volunteers contribute to their organization, and says, "So if you think we wait until April to say thank you to these walking angels – think again. We are thankful every day for all they do to help provide compassionate care to your friends and neighbors."


Ed Richard of Cranston would never describe himself as a hero.  But for Deanna Upchurch, grief support & volunteer programs manager for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island, Richard is a shining example of the many heroes that serve as volunteers for the organization.


“We have more than 330 volunteers, all of whom are essential partners to our paid professional staff to help fulfill our mission,” Upchurch says. “We are delighted to especially celebrate and thank them in April for National Volunteer Month. Ed is an inspiration to us all as he’s taken on so many different roles here. He’s become a fixture we depend on.”


Next week I hope to see many of you at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's Management and Leadership Conference in Washington DC. I love this opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and meet new people and learn the latest updates in the world of hospice and palliative care.  It feels like a reunion of kindred spirits, I hope to see you there!


May will be a whirlwind of activity for me.  After Washington I'll be in Baltimore, Jacksonville, Titusville, and Chicago, and that's just the first 2 weeks!  I love my work and always enjoy being with people who are so passionate about their mission.  

Happy Spring!!

Pause, take a breath, smile and enjoy the the springtime flowers at our RiverCove Retreat Center
The Watershed Group
Phone: 352-495-2800  |  Fax: 352-495-1810
© 2016 All rights reserved
To Read Previous Newsletters Go To:
Having trouble viewing this email? Click here
If you no longer wish to receive our emails, click the link below:
The Watershed Group 5745 SW 75th St #323 Gainsville, Florida 32608 United States (352) 495-2800