Volunteering Is a Way to Make Deep Connections

picture1I am a junior at Fruitland High School. This year I became a Cicely Ambassador at Heart ‘n Home in Fruitland and I have nothing but positive things to say about my experiences!

My mom recommended this program to me as she was a Volunteer Opportunities in the past.  I decided to give it a chance and see what it was all about. After receiving my patients and visiting them for the first time, I realized that there is so much more to volunteering than many people care to realize. Putting in volunteer hours shouldn’t be something that only makes you look like a good person on the surface. For me, volunteering is a way to make deep connections with people who need help and build strong relationships with them. There is no better feeling than knowing you were a friend to someone, or knowing you helped somebody when they needed you most.

Whether I am reading to my patients or just listening to them tell their favorite stories, I am happy to be in their presence and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be their friend when they need one the most!

Parker L.
Cicely Ambassador 2016-2017

Volunteer in Hospice

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Hospice Volunteer of the Month – December 2014

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Hospice Volunteer of the Month – December 2014
Brian Hohstadt – La Grande, Oregon

Brian has been volunteering with Heart ‘n Home since March. He is a wonderful Volunteer and had years of experience before coming to us. Most of Brian’s fondest childhood memories are of time spent with his grandparents growing up on a dairy farm, surrounded by animals. He was a candy striper at a small hospital as a teenager.  He has always had the desire to give time to the elderly in his community.

Brian’s beautiful French bulldog, Blake, is a certified pet therapy dog that accompanies him on his visits. Becoming a certified pet therapy team takes a lot of dedication and teamwork, but Brian and Blake have proven themselves to be an amazing team!

Brian and Blake are currently serving four Heart ‘n Home patients in La Grande. The joy that our patients get from having pet therapy (seeing Blake) is invaluable and makes Brian and Blake a wonderful addition to our Heart ‘n Home family.

The philosophy that Brian has about volunteering is truly inspiring. As he says, “I always hoped that at least one person in my life’s path would be thankful that I was here.  I know Blake is doing that, ten-fold, and I am there to support him, and to listen.  I am a good listener. As a team, I think we are making a difference.  When we enter a facility and are greeted with huge smiles, hugs, and ‘I was waiting for you to get here,’ that tells me my life has not been in vain.”

Volunteer in Hospice

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My Experience Volunteering in Hospice

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hannah-bondy-13372This is my first year volunteering as part of the Cicely Ambassador Program at Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care. It has been a very rewarding experience, knowing that I am making a difference. It is a commitment, but I know the patients can really use my company and it is always time well spent. Even though one (out of two) of my patients has barely seen my face, I know that she hears my voice. I finished reading Charlotte’s Web to my other patient who is also mostly non-responsive and the smile on her face told me that she was enjoying it. It was even more special because she is for the most part, non-communicative and doesn’t show much emotion.

Volunteering as a Cicely Ambassador touches the lives of those who are on their end-of-life journey. It makes such an impact, not only on the patient, but on their family and friends as well. Reading or playing a card game with a patient, gives them joy while they may be feeling down. Some patients just want someone who they can watch their favorite movie with. The last moments of a person’s life should be special and cherished, not easily forgotten. Volunteering in hospice can be life changing for anyone. I am honored and privileged to be part of the team.

Hannah B.
Cicely Ambassador 2016-2017

Volunteer in Hospice

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WWII Veteran Tours Idaho Air National Guard Base

A SPECIAL DAY WITH A WWII VETERAN
Written by: Quinn Bates, Heart ‘n Home Volunteer

In October, he shared with me that his favorite airplane was the A-10 Thunderbolt.  He went on to name the reasons why.  I was amazed to learn this, as I had no idea since it was not a navy plane.  Also, an idea popped into my mind immediately upon hearing this, as I still have connections at the Idaho Air National Guard, where my husband served for 29 years, retiring as a commander and I volunteered in Military Family Support.  Since the Air Guard is A-10 mission based, I thought it could be a nice opportunity to get him a tour so he could see the plane up close, ask questions, and see how they operate.  I asked Gordon that day if he thought he would like for me to pursue this idea.  He said he would think about it, as he wasn’t getting around very well.

After working out the logistics and details with the Lee family and officer at the Idaho Air National Guard, we set the date and proceeded.  I also asked the Lee family if I could involve my own family in this event, since my husband retired from and my son currently serves in the Air National.  Gordon always asks about my husband, since we have shared military stories, so I thought it would be extra special for them to meet.  My son works in the Metals Tech Shop and really enjoys volunteering for veterans.  He is also very talented in welding and machining and I thought he could help me come up with an idea for a special presentation for Gordon (and as you will see later in the story, he had the perfect idea).

The day finally arrived!  I met the Lees just outside the Air National Guard base and we drove in together.  Gordon’s son, daughter-in-law, and her sister joined us for the tour.  We went straight to the 190th Fighter Squadron, where Lt. Col. Mike Knowles and my son, TSgt Phil Bates were waiting for us to arrive.  When they saw us drive up, they came out to the car and took control assisting Mr. Lee into his wheelchair and escorting him for the remainder of the afternoon.  We were taken directly to the very simulator where the pilots do their training.  It is set up just like being in the cockpit of an A-10 with an exact replica of the terrain and movement like flying.  It was an amazing opportunity.  Gordon was not able to climb into the cockpit, but he could sit/stand just behind the pilot seat or watch on a computer screen just outside the room as his family each got a turn flying the simulator.  The 1st Lt. that assisted us in the simulator took his time to explain the buttons, knobs, and dashboard of the A-10 Thunderbolt.

We then followed Lt. Col. Knowles and TSgt Bates, who pushed Gordon in the wheelchair, over to the A-10 main hanger where all the maintenance work is done.  When we arrived, MSgt Mark Klaudt was waiting to greet Gordon and his family and take them on the tour of the hanger floor.  We were lucky enough that there were 4 A-10s in various stages of maintenance on the floor.  MSgt Klaudt explained about the scheduled maintenance programs and answered many questions about the A-10.  He explained the mission of the A-10 and showed the Lee family around so that Gordon could get right up next to the airplane to see many of the important details.  MSgt Klaudt brought out an A-10 bullet casing so that Gordon could see the size of the 30 mm rounds that are fired from the A-10.  (This is something that Gordon had mentioned to me that he really wanted to see.) He also got to witness the maintenance technicians moving a plane out of the hanger back to the flight line.

After an extremely well guided tour of the hanger and airplanes, TSgt Bates took over and took Gordon and his family for a tour of the Metal Tech Shop.  This was where another special surprise awaited Gordon.  My son had an empty A-10 bullet casing.  He wanted to give that to Gordon to show his appreciation for Gordon’s sacrifices.  My son had the bullet casing engraved with Gordon’s name and retired rank and presented it to him at that time.  I think this meant a lot to Gordon, as he mentioned to me before the tour he was really interested in seeing one.  He said he wondered how it would compare to the rounds that were shot from the 20 mm anti-aircraft guns on ships on which he served during WWII.  Then, my husband who had joined us in the hanger and for many years had been the Maintenance Group Commander there, presented Gordon with a book that he thought Gordon would enjoy about the Civil War.  We shared some special moments with these presentations before the tour moved on.

TSgt Bates showed Gordon and his family how they use the computer programs to create parts to repair the A-10s.  He showed them some very intricate samples of what they can achieve in the welding and machining shop.  Then, he took the family on a tour through the shop and they met some of the people who work in that area.

After about 2 ½ hours, we completed the tour and Gordon seemed very happy with his afternoon.  He and the family mentioned many times this was so much more than they anticipated.  Actually, the guardsmen made it so much more than I anticipated as well.

Before leaving the base, Gordon’s daughter-in-law was asking about a helicopter that was on display somewhere on the base.  Gordon’s granddaughter is married to a man who’s father died in an Idaho Army National Guard Helicopter.  I took them to where I thought the display might be, and sure enough we found the replica of the MediVac helicopter with the father’s name painted on the side.  It was a very moving moment for them.

As we left the base and I was riding in the back seat with Gordon’s daughter-in-law, she reiterated to me her appreciation.  She said it had been a very long time since Gordon had been out of the house and that this had been really special.  We agreed to share photos and I told her that I would get her the information about the Veteran’s History Project, which documents Veteran service in the National Archives.

It was a special day for so many reasons….enriching friendships and showing an honored veteran and gentleman a rewarding time.

Gordon’s daughter-in-law called me this week to get addresses for thank you notes to the Air National Guard personnel.  She told me the tour meant so much to Gordon that they are making him a memory book with pictures for his Christmas present.

I recently called to check on Gordon and schedule a monthly visit.  He couldn’t stop talking about that day.  He said he was personally writing thank you notes to all involved.  He told me, “That was one of the best afternoons of my life.”  I am so thankful to be a Heart ‘n Home Volunteer and meet wonderful people like Gordon.  It is so fulfilling and rewarding and enriches my life.

Apply to be a Volunteer today! Click here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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