Understated, and behind the scenes, a hospice volunteer quietly makes a tough day better, one act of kindness at a time. Some of his or her many assignments include listening and encouraging our patients and their loved ones, delivering needed medications and supplies, helping with office and event support, or providing handyman and maintenance services. Wings of Hope Hospice staff and volunteers are privileged to help those with limited life expectancies. Our patients inspire us to do everything we can to make each day its best. We are fortunate to have a committed group of volunteers that generously share their time and talents with them.
One of our stand-out volunteers is Emmett Houghton. Emmett has volunteered with Wings of Hope Hospice since November, 2012, and has served in a number of roles. In 2016 alone, he volunteered 121 hours and drove 3367 miles for Wings of Hope Hospice patients. Delivering medications is by far his most frequent assignment. On a typical day, our nurse case managers visit patients to assess how well medications are working. When they and the doctor determine that adjustments are needed, a new prescription is called into the pharmacy. If the changes are urgently needed, the nurse will request a volunteer pick up and deliver the medication to the patient’s home. Our pharmacy of choice is Portage Pharmacy, which can compound many specialized medications for our patients. A pick‑up and delivery is often a 100-mile route. While the distance alone is above and beyond, Emmett is the one we can depend on to meet a patients’ needs.
While on medication deliveries, Emmett looks for ways to encourage or bring a smile to the faces of those he meets. Occasionally, he has shoveled a patient’s sidewalk or chatted with caregivers about how they are holding up under the stress. When he gets back to the Wings of Hope Hospice office, he also regularly encourages our staff. It is not uncommon for Emmett to just stop into the office to see if there is something he can help with. As you can imagine, there are always a few things that need attention. He has fixed door locks, replaced light bulbs, installed smoke detectors, and moved fire extinguishers. We are very grateful for his support.
Comparing the mileage that Emmett drove in 2016 to 2015, we discovered that for every mile he drove in 2015, Emmett drove 1.3 miles in 2016. A few other volunteers help with deliveries, as well, but since Wings of Hope Hospice is serving so many more patients than before, it’s difficult to keep up with requests. Emmett didn’t ask for recognition, but he did ask for a “few good men” to help out. He is glad to share the joy of helping a neighbor. As a hospice volunteer, you will never wonder if you have made a difference for the good.
If you are interested in volunteering for deliveries, or have other ways to help care for hospice patients, please contact me at (269) 686-8659. I’d be glad to talk further with you about volunteer opportunities at Wings of Hope Hospice.
Author: Mary Soule, Volunteer Coordinator