Niagara Hospice volunteers provided over 16,000 hours of support last year doing everything from delivering meals to patients with nutritional needs to helping with clerical and fundraising tasks. Volunteers make up 5 percent of the clinical workforce hours at Niagara Hospice, as mandated by Medicare.
With a new volunteer training coming up in April, Niagara Hospice Director of Volunteer Services Alice Beck is looking for compassionate individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of Niagara County residents as they make their final journey.
"We have many volunteer opportunities available," she said. "Positions include patient-related and non-patient related jobs. Volunteers are especially needed to assist with meal and comfort tote deliveries, hairdressing, and to simply visit with patients."
Visits take place in the patient's or caregiver's home, at Niagara Hospice House, and at area long-term care facilities where hospice patients reside. Other opportunities include helping with clerical tasks and fundraising efforts.
Veterans are also needed to serve as hospice volunteers as part of the We Honor Veterans initiative recently launched by Niagara Hospice in partnership with the WNY Veteran's Administration.
Tricia Degan, director of marketing and public relations, said, "Our hospice patients who are veterans often don't talk about their service, but we have found that when we pair them up with a volunteer who is also a veteran, a special camaraderie is shared and patients find comfort and even relief being able to talk about their experience in the service with another veteran."
Beck also said that area high school teens are needed to carry on with the Legacy Videos project. By producing Legacy Videos, teens help patients record their life story, providing the patient and their family something special to cherish forever.
Niagara Hospice will hold a volunteer training for new volunteers from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 17 and 18. Anyone interested can contact the Hospice volunteer office at 280-0748 for an application and to register. Potential volunteers must attend both sessions, which will be held at Niagara Hospice, 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport. Volunteers can choose to help in areas of their preference.
Niagara Hospice served more than 900 families last year and more than 16,000 Niagara County residents since 1988. Hospice is specialized care for the terminally ill. Niagara Hospice provides support services to both the patient and family - providing comfort, dignity and choice. For more information, call Niagara Hospice at 439-4417 or visit www.NiagaraHospice.org.