Volunteers Find Fulfillment at Hospice

Monday, June 6, 2011

THERESA CAMPBELL | Staff Writer - The Daily Commercial, Leesburg, Florida 


Cornerstone Hospice's volunteers range in ages 14 to 97, some who devote two to four hours a week socializing with a patient, running errands, or providing a break for the patient's caregiver.

"Our patients have said that they love and appreciate their volunteers," said Lisa Gray, volunteer manager, who in turns often hears praise from people who cherish the experience of providing comfort or services to hospice patients.

"Our volunteers say that they get more out of volunteering than they give," Gray said.

Ditto for volunteers Alfred and Elaine Ragona of Tavares. The pair has found it to be fulfilling to volunteer at the Frank & Helen DeScipio Hospice House in Tavares, where they say they've experienced many "wonderful moments" with patients and families.

"It is rewarding, without a doubt," Al said Sunday. "Hospice is for the living. It's about living and people who need help while they are living, whether they are terminal or not terminal, hospice is there for them."

He also devotes time sitting vigil with patients as they die, something that he believes not all volunteers may feel comfortable doing.

"Being with that person to the end, to me, is very, very rewarding," Al said. "Someone in hospice told me 'What a wonderful feeling it has to be to know that the last voice or face that a patient sees before he dies and goes to see God's face would be your face,' and when you think of it that way, it is a wonderful thing."

All hospice volunteers serve a purpose, he said, including those who run errands, providing clerical help, arrange fundraisers, sew memory bears. Some volunteers take part in Cornerstone SALUTES! ceremonies, where veteran hospice patients are honored for their military service, while others are involved in areas where they have no patient contact.

The Ragonas believe it's important for volunteers to serve in capacities that best suits their interests.

Cornerstone Hospice will offer 16-hour volunteer training over a two-day period, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and also on June 17 at Blessed Sacrament Church, 720 12th St., Clermont. Lunch, snacks and training materials will be provided. To register or learn more, call (352) 742-6806.