Hospice volunteers fill a unique role

A committed group of volunteers is helping fill a need at Good Samaritan Society – Home Care in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Their aim is simple: spend time with hospice patients.

Volunteer coordinator Kathlyn Williams is frequently told about their positive impact. With companionship and conversation, the group comforts and uplifts patients.

“They really make people smile,” she says. “They just come in with who they are and what talents they have.”

Every great volunteer starts with a basic foundation.

“You have to be a person who wants to give back to society, give back to the community,” she states.

Volunteers do everything from giving manicures to singing and playing games.

“They’re just amazing people,” Kathlyn says.

Creating magical moments

Volunteer Brian Gordon’s priority is making magic. But he always explains his magic tricks so everyone knows how they’re done.

He likes listening to patients talk about their past and getting them to smile and laugh.

Brian explains, “This is a place that makes a big difference as people are reaching their end of life.”

Brian also has a personal connection to hospice care.

“Hospice helped my family about five years ago when my father was passing so when I was trying to figure out something to do, it became a pretty easy choice,” he says.

Rescued for purpose

After Jennifer Mugniani rescued her dog, Pueblo, she realized he was special and began training him to visit hospice patients at Good Samaritan Society – Manzano Del Sol.

“He really lights up people’s faces,” says Jennifer. “He loves going up and down the hallways, and he knows which patients want him to come up on their bed so they can cuddle.”

Jennifer has been a hospice nurse with the Society for two years and knows the power of pet therapy. When her late husband was in the hospital, she brought their dog in to help him feel peaceful and calm.

She feels privileged to bring Pueblo to visit patients and residents and notices the difference it’s made for him.

“I think Pueblo gets as much out of it as they do,” she states. “Coming from a very abandoned place and being so loved means a lot to him.”

Making connections

Alyssa Ammerman is pursuing a career in medicine, so she knew being a hospice volunteer would be a good fit for her. She found the Good Samaritan Society on VolunteerMatch.

Alyssa makes about 25 calls each week, checking to see whether patients have any questions for the nurses.

“I enjoy making those connections,” Alyssa says.

She also helps the patient coordinator with a variety of tasks, including making small holiday gifts for patients.“Even if you only have a few hours a week, you can make a real difference here and you can establish good patient relationships,” she says.

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