As volunteer coordinator at Care Dimensions’ Kaplan Family Hospice House, I meet a lot of people who want to give back to our organization because they are grateful for the compassionate care their loved ones received at end of life. I know how they feel because I’ve been down the same road.
My grandmother received excellent hospice care at home from Hospice of the North Shore (Care Dimensions’ original name) for the last three weeks of her life in 2002. My grandmother and my parents lived with me and my husband, so I had a lot of interaction with the hospice care team. I was so impressed with the care my grandmother received, that I vowed to become a hospice volunteer if I ever had enough time to devote to it.
Seven years later, I was laid off from my corporate job, took the hospice volunteer training, and began seeing patients. I loved volunteering and giving back to the hospice that had helped my grandmother. Eventually, I had to get a paying job. One of my patients helped me chart my new career path.
“This is your second act,” she told me. “This time, you should do something that you love.”
I took an evening receptionist position at the Kaplan Family Hospice House, which led to a full-time receptionist job at Care Dimensions’ headquarters in Danvers. When the volunteer coordinator position at Kaplan House became available in 2015, it was a natural fit for me. I knew what it was like to be a hospice volunteer, had enjoyed working at the Kaplan House, and loved supporting Care Dimensions’ mission.
That summer, the vice president of the Care Dimensions Philanthropy Department asked me if I’d be interested in forming a Walk for Hospice team. My husband, two sisters, and a couple of volunteers signed up. We called our team the Volunteer Vikings because we’re strong supporters of our patients and want to ensure they’re well cared for.
Proceeds from the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice help provide compassionate care to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay. Funds also support services for which Care Dimensions is not reimbursed, including: massage, Reiki, and pet therapy; grief counseling; and volunteer training.
The second year, our team blossomed into 18 members and we walked in memory of three longtime Care Dimensions volunteers. We raised the most money of any team that year. We’ve continued to have a strong team. We’ve all been touched by hospice and are passionate about keeping the mission going.
One of our original team members, Joanne Barber of Beverly, says that participating in the Walk is a way for her “to honor patients I have known and all of the patients served by Care Dimensions.” Teammate Robin Hoffman of Lynnfield, who had three family members receive hospice from Care Dimensions, says, “Being able to share my family’s experience with other families at the Walk is a comfort.”
We’re doing something great for an organization that did something positive for us during a most difficult time. Teammate Debbie Wexler of Danvers adds, “It is so rewarding to know that donations from the Walk help so many people.” I agree. We all like to give back and have a good time doing it.