Volunteering with Wings of Hope
Many ways to serve
You might be surprised about the many interesting ways to volunteer with Wings of Hope. We use two categories of volunteers, direct and indirect. Some direct care opportunities include delivering supplies, running errands, giving haircuts, light housekeeping, or as a companion to our patients by listening, assisting with activities they enjoy, reading, painting nails, playing music, honoring veterans, and writing life stories. Specialized positions like Massage Therapists, Music Therapists, and Pet Therapy animals also are direct caregivers. Most of the time, these services are provided right in the patient’s home. Even after a patient’s death, volunteers help contact the bereaved and lead grief support groups.
Indirect ways to help include assisting with phones at the office, preparing mailings, making copies, shredding paper, helping with events, handcrafting items like quilts and shawls for patients, or sewing bears and pillows out of patients’ shirts for their bereaved loved ones. Of course, we always have yardwork and office cleaning that needs attention, parade floats to decorate, auction bin items to assemble, and information booths to host.
Volunteering for Wings of Hope is a very rewarding experience. When you know your effort and time will make a positive difference, and you are part of adding to the greater good, it is very gratifying. You can take pride in a job well done by showing up to serve, striving to do your best, and sharing your talents. The sincere appreciation of our patients and their loved ones at a difficult time is humbling. It reminds us that one day we will be in a similar position and will be grateful for encouragement, reliable support, and a friendly face.
What is the process to become a volunteer?
To become a volunteer with Wings of Hope contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Soule, at (269) 686-6859. She will answer your questions and provide a volunteer application. Volunteers go through the same type of process that our employees complete. We perform reference checks and background checks, an interview, and other requirements. We do this not only to meet federal and state requirements but also to shield and protect our patients from harm. New volunteers can observe another experienced volunteer to learn more about their role, and get a better idea if it is the best fit for them. Within the available opportunities, volunteers choose roles and schedules that interest them most.
Volunteers are valued and supported.
Volunteers are an essential part of the Wings of Hope team. They are supported, trained, and have access to the staff for counsel. We highly value the perspective and input of volunteers, and staff will add the volunteers activities to the patients’ plan of care, or if indirect, add their activities to the Wings of Hope strategic plan.
What volunteers are needed most?
The most in-demand volunteer roles are direct caregivers for our Wings Home patients. The Wings Home is a four-bedroom ranch home where up to four patients are cared for during the final six weeks of life. Caregivers at the Wings Home make meals, clean laundry, and assist patients with dressing, ambulation or transfers, toileting, changing sheets, and giving medication. Caregivers at the Wings Home receive a t-shirt with our tagline, “Wings Home. Where the end of a life is as precious as its beginning.”
When are volunteers needed?
The Wings Home is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. There is no charge for the patients that stay there, and there are still all the expenses of a normal home. For the Wings Home to stay viable, fundraisers, donations, and warm-hearted volunteers provide for our patients. People at the Wings Home must also be a Wings of Hope Hospice patient, and still receive services from the nurse case managers, nurse aides, and our chaplain and social worker, just as they would receive in their own home.
We have three volunteer shifts at the Wings Home each day: 7am – 12pm, 12pm – 5pm, and 5pm to 10pm. Each of the three shifts requires two caregivers. In a 30-day month, 180 shifts need coverage. Currently, volunteer caregivers cover about 50% of the shifts, and the other 50% are covered by contingent staff.
Other rewards of volunteering
We have plenty of room for more volunteer caregivers at the Wings Home, but many more opportunities are available, as well. Please give Mary a call to learn about current options and the perks that go with service. If you volunteer for special event, you receive free entrance to it. If you volunteer at the office, the coffee is always on, and we have goodies galore to share. Volunteering is a great way to make a good friend and find your smile.
Author: Mary Soule, Volunteer Coordinator
Photo credit: Craig Gardiner Photography