Imagine our community without the services we rely so heavily on: hospitals, senior centers, YWCA, YMCA, churches, schools, Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Hospice -- and the list goes on. More than likely, these services would cease to exist without the generosity of dedicated volunteers.
April is National Volunteer Month, providing the perfect opportunity to thank the thousands of volunteers who made our country strong and continue to be the heart and soul of our communities. The power of volunteerism is far reaching. It can brighten the day of someone who is truly alone, soothe a grieving heart or feed a hungry child.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another." This is certainly the opinion of Hospice volunteers. Many of the volunteers I have the pleasure of working with share that their efforts are sometimes selfish -- because they get as much out of volunteering as the people they help.
There are many opportunities out there. At Niagara Hospice, volunteers are needed to visit with patients and families, cut and style hair, deliver prescriptions and assist with fund-raising events and clerical duties. Without our volunteers, a hospice plan of care could not exist. Each of them sees their position as a new career where the pay scale is just different -- their rewards are on the faces of all those they help, from patients, to family members and staff.
Currently, Niagara Hospice is developing a Teen Volunteer Program for area high school students. Opportunities include providing companionship and support to Hospice patients and family members, recording life histories of patients, participating in group projects and serving on a Hospice teen council or a teen speakers bureau. The students will gain valuable experience and some of life's most important lessons. It's a great way to learn about careers in health care and human services, and can help students meet requirements for college scholarships. If you know a teen who would benefit from this rewarding experience, or if you would like to volunteer yourself, call Niagara Hospice at 439-4417.
American writer and educator, Leo Buscaglia, wrote, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." If you want to experience the joy of volunteering, call your favorite charity or service organization and ask how you can lend a hand. It could be the most satisfying thing you will ever do.
Alice Beck, Niagara Hospice Director of Volunteer Services