The Special Role of Volunteers in the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice Mission
In the United States, the third week of April is celebrated as National Volunteer Week. Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice (SSRCH) is blessed with an abundance of volunteers, so we wanted to use this month’s blog to pay tribute to these caring souls! A special thanks to our Lead Volunteer Coordinator, Tracy Arens, for compiling all this great information to showcase our volunteers.
The impact of the SSRCH Volunteer program within the communities we serve is forever remembered and creates a special bond between patients, family members, and the volunteer. We currently have 145 volunteers serving in some direct or indirect patient care capacity, and we have an additional 55 volunteers who serve our Richardson Hospice Resale Store. Our volunteers wear many different hats, and many of them offer their time and talent in multiple roles.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, changed what volunteerism looks like over the last two years. At SSRCH, we used the time to do some “out of the box” thinking, which has led to the creation of new ways to serve our patients through volunteerism. In particular, we have opened up several remote, direct patient care volunteer opportunities.
Many of our volunteers have been with the organization since the beginning and will celebrate 15 years of service this year! Most of the volunteers have experienced hospice care “in action” and seek to give back because of its difference in their journey with a loved one. Volunteers at the Richardson Hospice Resale Store give of their time to sort and prepare donations for sale, welcome customers, and provide a wonderful shopping experience. Their work supports the hospice’s Patient Care Fund which helps the hospice provide care to patients and families who are unable to afford the full cost of their medical care.
Our volunteers frequently tell us that it is an honor to serve in hospice. They see it as a very personal and intimate time of life and wish to make a difference with a smile, a kind word, or a hand to hold. Many volunteers say it is a calling to serve and feel this is the best place to do so in a way that gives dignity to others.
Hospice volunteerism also has a regulatory component: we must ensure that direct patient care volunteers provide at least 5% of our staffing. This was a challenge over the last couple of years with COVID restrictions in place, but we are happy to say that we finished 2021 with 7.45% of patient care coming from volunteers.
As restrictions lift, we hope to onboard many new volunteers. Our goal is to return to the 13-15% in volunteer service we saw before 2020.
Volunteers are dedicated and compassionate, with many having experienced the outstanding care SSRCH provides via a family member or friend. Volunteers are truly our best advocates of the hospice mission. We are grateful for each and everyone who offers their time and talent to serve!
There are so many impactful ways to get involved as a volunteer with the hospice or resale store. We encourage you to explore them here: https://ssrhospicehome.org/giving/volunteer/.