Recognizing Our Volunteers
I love to volunteer. Last weekend I helped check in riders for a Montpelier bike event that was back on the calendar after a two-year pandemic hiatus. It was a joy to welcome out-of-towners to our community and share some laughs with people I’ve known since before I needed reading glasses to see the registration sheets. Every year, I spend a week as a counselor at an overnight camp for Vermont kids who might not otherwise have an overnight camp experience—a wonderful service opportunity my daughter brought to our family. And I serve as the board president of our local mountain bike club—bringing my advocacy and organizational skills to bear on one of my favorite things to do for fun. Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose and belonging that has become even more important to me now that my kids are grown. I believe it’s central to my well-being.
Earlier this month, during National Volunteer Week, our members celebrated the many Vermonters who volunteer for home health and hospice agencies. There are myriad ways to volunteer in home health and hospice—from serving on the board of directors, to helping at a fundraising event, to serving as a hospice volunteer, to supporting a community health clinic.
Trained volunteers are an integral part of hospice care. Under the guidance of the hospice team, they support Vermonters at the end of life and help families through the difficult process of losing a loved one. They provide companionship, relieve caregivers or run errands. As one of our agencies says, all you need is a “caring, can-do attitude.”
“I absolutely love the fact that I’m able to participate with these people and their families on this glorious journey of life,” says Francie Collouti, a volunteer with VNA and Hospice of the Southwest Region. “It’s a very humbling experience.”
Years ago, Mark Nash, a hospice volunteer and board member at Lamoille Home Health and Hospice took the first hospice volunteer training available in Burlington. And while he never did any volunteering at that time, it was his first thought upon retirement.
“Hospice volunteering allowed me to continue serving my community while also giving me a sense of ‘paying it forward,’" he says.
Vicki Gauthier volunteers at Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice’s (CVHHH's) public foot-care clinics, where her husband, Tim, a registered nurse, also provides care.
"I thought it would be a way to be useful," said Vicki, a retired school music teacher. Vicki says she did not fully understand—before becoming a volunteer—the importance of CVHHH's public foot-care clinics. She also loves the people she meets while performing her volunteer work. "They have so much to share, and they have a lot of wisdom. I look forward to clinic days," she notes.
Thanks to all of the amazing volunteers at our member agencies for continuing to say yes! Looking for a way to give back? Check out the website of your local home health and hospice agency!