Time to honor hospice volunteers

EDITOR:

In 1978, a group of concerned citizens in Delta County founded the first hospice in the state of Michigan to fill the need to minister to those with life-limiting illness. Bay de Noc Hospice merged in 1995 with OSF St. Francis Hospital to become OSF Bay de Noc Hospice and expanded territory to Menominee County. In 2009, we began a No One Dies Alone (NODA) program to serve those alone and dying. Since its inception, volunteers have served over 700 NODA hours. In January 2011, we again expanded to bring hospice service to Dickinson County.

Our hospice and NODA volunteers served 3,174 hours in 2013, helping hospice patients and their families and those alone and dying in our community. It is my firm belief that hospice volunteers are “called” to this Mission. They give of their time sacrificially. In addition to serving our patients as companions and friends, they give caregivers needed time off to attend to their own needs; bake goodies during the holidays to give our patients; donate time to visit those in nursing homes; bring joy through music with the reverie harp; make quilts; pray with and hold hands with the dying; facilitate grief groups; and serve in so many other ways. It is only fitting that we honor them during National Volunteer Week.

It has been said that volunteers are the heart of hospice, and they truly are. We honor those that bring no expectations to their work other than a caring heart and the deep desire to serve each family they touch. Thank you OSF Hospice/NODA volunteers for helping us to carry out our Mission of “serving with the greatest care and love.

Ilene Kotajarvi

Escanaba