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Finding New Purpose and Meaning As a Volunteer

Anita Krull is crocheting her fourteenth afghan for a hospice patient. Her goal is to create 25 afghans.

Anita tries to crochet every day for an hour or so. It takes about 30 hours, she says, to complete one afghan. Anita began her afghan project after her husband was the beneficiary of an afghan when he was a hospice patient. “He received an afghan that someone had made and it was so meaningful to us,” Anita explains. “It meant so much to the entire family. We all took turns sleeping with it after he passed. I determined this is what I could do – crochet afghans to comfort families.” That began Anita’s volunteer service to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. “It’s given my life purpose,” Anita says. “I was at such a loss when I lost my husband.”

But Anita didn’t stop with crocheting.

Next, she volunteered to share music with patients and families every week.

On Thursdays she spends two hours playing her autoharp or guitar for hospice patients and families. “I try to play requests,” Anita laughs. “Sometimes I know them, sometimes I don’t.” Either way, she finds her music enables her to quickly bond with the patients and families she meets. “I’ve met lots of nice people,” Anita says. “I love the feeling of making a connection before they pass.”

Usually, she donates her afghans and never meets the recipient. But twice she spotted one of her afghans on the bed when she visited patients to play music. “It was humbling to know who received it,” Anita confesses. “I hope my afghans can touch and comfort another family the way the one we received did.”

In November, it will be wo years since her husband died following three years of serious illness and multiplying infections. He was 65. Anita is now 67 and retired, and finds her volunteer work for hospice has given her purpose and meaning. “As much as I am a blessing to patients and families, they are a blessing to me,” Anita observes. “I crochet every day, eagerly and with purpose.” Anita says once she reaches her goal of 25 afghans, she will then have a decision to make.

“Who knows – maybe I’ll decide to create 25 more.”

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Volunteers Shape Our Gardens at Hospice House

Every connection we make with our patients, families, and community is meaningful to us. We are always grateful when we learn that our organization holds special meaning to members of the community. That’s why we are so moved when Mark Bisceglia says his connection with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton is what brought his Dayton Nielsen team of volunteers to our campus.

Mark Bisceglia, pictured, led the Dayton Nielsen team to Volunteer at the Ohio's Hospice of Dayton gardens.

Mark Bisceglia, pictured, led the Dayton Nielsen team to volunteer at the Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton gardens.

“Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton has had a very personal and profound impact on my life and the lives of my family,” Bisceglia said. “My father was a patient here almost 21 years ago and my mother-in-law was a patient recently around Easter. I’ve also had grandparents that utilized Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton’s services.”

Nielsen Volunteers uproot a bush at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton.

Nielsen Volunteers uproot a bush at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.

When Bisceglia was placed in charge of this year’s Nielsen Global Impact Day for his Dayton team, Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton was the first organization he thought of.

“The campus and its staff have been there repeatedly during my time of need and this was an opportunity to give back to an organization that has provided so much for my family,” Bisceglia said.

Nielsen allows its over 40,000 team members to dedicate up to 24 hours of time per year to not-for-profit organizations. Once a year, Nielsen conducts its Nielsen Global Impact Day, a day the entire company, in the U.S. and throughout the world, volunteer at not-for-profit organizations.

Nielsen Volunteer adds these vibrant flowers to our Hospice House gardens.

Nielsen Volunteer adds these vibrant flowers to our Hospice House gardens.

This year, 12 Nielsen Volunteers gave over 40 hours of Volunteer time to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton on that day alone. During that time, Bisceglia and his team focused on beautification of the Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton campus, by planting flowers, replacing flower beds, and planting grass seed.

Volunteer plants plant at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House

“I would strongly encourage anyone with a heart of giving back to consider Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton,” Bisceglia said. “The services they provide and the incredible compassion of each and every staff member, in my opinion, makes this an ideal organization of which to serve.”

We thank the Nielsen team for supporting our mission of providing superior care and superior services to each patient and family – we can’t do what we do without our compassionate Volunteers.Nielsen Volunteers at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House

Volunteers can support our mission in many ways. See how you or your workplace can make a difference in the lives of our patients and families by visiting this link.

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Bears, Bears, Bears at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton

Oakwood High School students & Lasertoma group give stuffed teddy bears to patients at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House.No lions. No tigers. But lots and lots of bears, bears, bears.

With a mission of visiting and cheering patients, LaSertoma of Dayton Club members and students from Oakwood High School bring stuffed bears monthly to deliver to patients at the Hospice House on Wilmington Avenue in Dayton. LaSertoma member Pam Stephens can’t say how many bears have been delivered, but shares “LaSertoma started this project in the 1990s. We bring 40 bears with us 7 or 8 months out of the year.” That’s a lot of bears!

And a lot of smiles.

Delivery of the bears is a heartwarming experience for everyone involved. “We have had some patients – usually men – tell us they never had a teddy bear before, “ Pam says. “They hug on tightly when they get one.”

Oakwood students support the project and Stephens says patients really enjoy the interaction with students. “They are wonderful with the patients,” Stephens observes. “Many of them have had grandparents at hospice, so they have a special sense of the value in visiting and connecting.”

Each bear is presented along with a poem written by long-time LaSertoma member and hospice volunteer Helen Fornes:

To patients we give huggie bears

To help your day be brighter,

This warm and oh so loving petOakwood High School students & Lasertoma group give stuffed teddy bears to patients at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House.

Will make your burdens light

 

Oakwood High School students & Lasertoma group give stuffed teddy bears to patients at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House.Bears and Hugs bring joy to all

A loving touch to share

Hug-A-Bear Day at the Hospice of Dayton

Is our way to show we care,

LaSertoma receives some financial support from the students at St. Luke Elementary School in Beavercreek, who save lunch money to assist in the purchase of bears. Additional donations are accepted to help support the bear gift program. Please contact Pam Stephens by email at pamstephens@daytonlasertoma.com.

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Hospice Nursing Honor Guard Pays Tribute to Nurses

“The concept of honoring nurses who have given themselves to the care of others, was the initial appeal for me. It became more than a concept from the first time I stepped into a patient’s home, surrounded and embraced by her family, friends and fellow nurses. This nurse, who was dying at home, cared for by her parents, was younger than I. Her 15-year old daughter was at her bedside as we tried to thank her for her years of service to others. I have been a hospice nurse for more than 20 years. I have been privileged to share in many life closures, but in this situation, I struggled with my own tears.”

That is how Susan Boesch, RN, OCN, CHPN, with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton describes her experience with the Nursing Honor Guard program, which was created to celebrate and honor those who have dedicated their professional lives to nursing. With growing demand for these ceremonies, Ohio’s Hospice needs more staff volunteers to assist in honoring nursing professionals at the end-of-life.

The Nursing Honor Guard is comprised of Ohio’s Hospice volunteer nurses who conduct a ceremony at the patient bedside. Upon request, the Nursing Honor Guard conducts a ceremony to celebrate the service and honor nurses who have life-limiting illnesses and have become patients in the care of Ohio’s Hospice. Dressed in traditional and historical uniforms, the Honor Guard recognizes the nurse for her commitment to caring and providing compassion to patients. Career highlights and individual achievements are highlighted as part of the ceremony, in which the honoree is presented with a pin and certificate of appreciation.

According to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton Team Leader Jena Langford, RN, BSN, CHPN, CCM, “This program grew from a Bright Idea submitted by Christy Dempsey RN. Christy attended a graveside nursing honor guard tribute and was touched by the respect and appreciation given to the nurse that had passed. Christy wanted Hospice to honor our patients who are nurses.” Jena and Bessie Marshall adapted a program for Ohio’s Hospice that focuses on bedside tributes while patients are still alive.  Langford explains, “We interview the family and/or patient and create an individualized script tailored to each patient/nurse.  It is an honor to write these tributes and to be involved in presenting them”

Boesch says she has a new sense of appreciation for the role of nursing as a result of participating in Honor Guard Ceremonies. “I have seen, first hand, just how much a career in nursing means to the whole family. How proud they are of her/his achievements and service to others.”

Dressed in traditional and historical uniforms, the Honor Guard recognizes the nurse for her commitment to caring and providing compassion to patients.

Her sentiments are echoed by Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton Care Team Coordinator Linda Cummins, RN, BSN, CHPN, who opted for a career in nursing after completing military service. “I recall that feeling I had when I put on my nursing cap and was given a Nightingale lantern at my nursing school graduation.  I felt a sense of pride and community — very similar to the camaraderie of the military.  I recall the deep sense of honor and responsibility I felt as we all recited the Nightingale Pledge together at the conclusion of our graduation ceremony.  I have seen that sense of pride on the nurses we have honored with the Nursing Honor Guard.  There is a sense of purpose, honor, and responsibility – responsibility for something much bigger than one person, one nurse or one patient.  There are very few things in the civilian world that echoes military honor and commitment, but nursing is very much like that. The Nursing Honor Guard has given me that gift, that sense of awesome responsibility we have in caring for others.”

Cummins says the ceremony means much more to her than simply recognizing a fellow nurse. “We are acknowledging the role of nursing in our culture and how important and respected it is.  We are thanking these nurses and their families for the sacrifices of late nights, shift work, on-call duties, and informal nursing duties for family, friends and community.  We are acknowledging a lifetime of service.  We are acknowledging the higher calling of the life in the service of nursing.”

Langford cites Cummins and others whose participation has been a key to the success of the Nursing Honor Guard effort. “I would like to give a special thank you to the core group of staff who enable me to keep this program running smoothly – Linda Cummins, Terri Knopp, and Christy Dempsey. And a great thank you to all the staff volunteers taking time out of their day to complete these tributes!”

Ohio’s Hospice team members interested in volunteering to serve with the Nursing Honor Guard are invited to contact Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton Coming Home Team Leader Jena Langford, RN, BSN, CHPN, CCM at jlangford@hospiceofdayton.org or Admission Care Liaison with Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County Christy Dempsey, RN, BSN, CHPN, at cdempsey@hospiceofmiamicounty.org.

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Supporting 2 Missions At Once: LexisNexis

We were blessed with 30 volunteers from LexisNexis who gave their time to support our mission at our not-for-profit community hospice house! Supporting our mission supports their mission – they give back to their local communities through their Global Community Service Campaign, while their compassion improves the quality of life of our patients and families.

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Exchanging a Bear Hug

20160712_145601_resizedOhio’s Hospice of Dayton volunteer Judy Cole has touched the lives of hundreds of patient families over the years by creating handcrafted Memory Bears from the belongings of loved ones who have passed away. For the past two years, she has been making Memory Bears for another group – kids attending the grief program of Camp Pathways.

Judy was presented a framed thank you card signed by the Yellow Group campers who received her Memory Bears as souvenirs of Camp Pathways 2016 – along with a bear to call her own. We like to think of it as an exchange of bear hugs.
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AmeriCorps Volunteers Visit Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton

The flower beds at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton were recently given extra care, thanks to the giving hands of AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers from the North Central Region.

From Vinton, Iowa, the group of 18-24 year olds volunteered at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton and worked seven hours on Monday, May 16 planting annuals and maintaining our flower beds.  The group was led by our lead landscaper Miriam Wolf.

The volunteers are participating in a 10-month program traveling in the Northwestern region to help strengthen communities and their own leadership skills.  Currently, eight members are here in Dayton for two months working with the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm as part of a grant.

The staff from Aullwood suggested the volunteers extend their services to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton to help meet the 80 hours of community service they are required to meet.

One of the volunteers Keira Larson, 23, from Chandler, Arizona has never had exposure to a hospice and mentioned the other members were new to the environment as well. “We have been very fortunate with our experience,” Larson commented.

“I think that the young adults volunteering at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton are gaining a new story and experience to share,” said Team Leader Ashley Frampton. “Many have never been to a hospice before, and I think it is good for them to familiarize themselves with what is in their home community. I hope they all walk away from the day with a new perspective and knowledge.”

Frampton went on to say volunteering at a hospice is a great way for them to help out at a place with which they are unfamiliar.

“I am proud of my team for taking the initiative and reaching out to help organizations in the community where we are living and serving,” Frampton said, “It is the first time they have volunteered at a hospice and I hope it is not the last.”

The volunteers were given a tour of our Hospice House and educated on the mission and services we provide. After learning more about hospice, the volunteers felt so good about the work they were doing for our organization that they came back to serve another day.  We were happy with the news!

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton thanks the AmeriCorps Volunteers for their hard work and wishes them well in their valuable work.

Learn more about AmeriCorps NCCC

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The Heart of a Volunteer

 

Chris Williams In this story within a story, an author’s story intersects with his subject’s. The author of the story below is Chris Williams (at left), a former staff member at Hospice of Dayton who joined the staff in May 2014 and who recently resigned to devote attention full-time to his studies in his final year at Wright State University.  As part of his ongoing story, Chris has found a way to keep connected to his Hospice family.

As a communications major, Chris is now writing for the student-run DailyFlipz  (http://www.dailyflipz.com/) mobile website.  He is developing a series of hospice related stories for the site, which will also be published in Hospice of Dayton outlets.  In fact, the story below, “The Heart of a Volunteer,” was written by  Chris and is published here by permission. We wish Chris all the best in his future endeavors, including his work sharing stories from Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton!

Read more about Sue Rutherford, a volunteer who helps with Hospice grief services, written by Chris Williams:  Continue Reading →

Fairy Garden Provides Respite Care for Patients and Families

Miriam Morrison, Director of Volunteer Services

 

Nestled in an area of manicured bushes at the back of the Dayton Hospice House is a fairy garden of tiny benches, a gazebo, a picnic table, stone sidewalks and fences, toadstools, fairies, and lights, surrounded by miniature plants.

The gardens at the Dayton Hospice House provide respite care for patients and families, especially this small area outside the window of the Family Lounge at the back of the garden level of the Shaw building. Patients in wheelchairs can be seen sitting there with smiles of finding such a unique creation. Often children can be seen peering outside the window with excited giggles at finding nature’s version of a dollhouse.

Debbie Harber, one of our volunteers, has been creating fairy gardens for six years. She approached us about creating one for our gardens. Miriam Wolf, Hospice of Dayton landscaper, had the vision of a fairy garden in the master plan for landscaping, and she and Debbie chose this site. Over a six-week period, Debbie prepared the site and donated articles for each area of the garden.

Debbie became a hospice volunteer in 2013 as a result of a specialized recruitment for retired postal workers who could help sort the mail. As a retired letter carrier with 30 years experience, Debbie sorts the mail on Mondays each week in additional to caring for the fairy garden.

“My life has been blessed by volunteering at the Hospice of Dayton, knowing that everyone, not only children, is enjoying the miniature garden.”