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Volunteer Spotlight – Emily Heavener

March 17, 2023

Meet Emily Heavener

Wings: Tell us a little about yourself.

Emily: My name is Emily Heavener. I am 38 years old. I live in Hamilton with my husband of 15 years, Mike, and our 2 kids. Gerrit is 8 years old and Madison is 4 years old. I enjoy being active and playing sports. I play softball, volleyball, and tennis regularly. I also love warm weather and going to the beach. I am an RN with 10 years of experience working in hospice, both in an 18 bed inpatient hospice house and also doing weekend on-call. I like to be involved as a volunteer at my son’s school and recently started working for the district assisting with testing and as a substitute parapro. I also plan and prepare meals every Wednesday for my church.

Wings: How long have you been volunteering with the Wings Home?

Emily: I have been volunteering at the Wings Home for just over 2 years.

Wings: How did you get started?

Emily: I decided to leave my Hospice RN job in the late Fall of 2020 to stay home with my kids, be more involved with the school and my church, and just to take a break as I was feeling burnt out. I very quickly found out that I missed patient care and helping people at the end of life. So I decided to volunteer here after hearing about it from my mom who worked at Allegan General Hospital and often assisted with arranging discharges to Wings of Hope.

Wings: What motivates you to serve here?

Emily: I feel that serving here gives me purpose. It is my way to show God’s love to others. I feel I can truly help someone be more comfortable and relaxed. When their symptoms are managed and their pain/breathing/anxiety is under control, I feel like I’ve made a difference. I feel my past hospice experience can also help families and other caregivers too. I am always happy to answer questions, explain things, or teach someone something new.

Wings: What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with us?

Emily: My favorite thing is when a patient tells me it feels so good to have their face and hands washed up and teeth brushed before bed at night. It is such a small thing, but can make them feel so much better.

Wings: What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering?

Emily: I would say, “Give it a try!” It really is meaningful work and patients and the families are very appreciative. It is a great way to be involved in the community and provide a service that is so desperately needed and unfortunately becoming more and more rare.

Wings: What is a favorite Wings Home memory?

Emily: My favorite memory has been caring for a woman, who had been refusing cares and turns for a couple days, allowing me to get her all washed up and repositioned onto her side. She closed her eyes, breathed a big sigh, and smiled. She looked so much more relaxed and peaceful.

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