We are all unique individuals and we are all the same in many fundamental ways.  During our lives we live and learn and find our identities within groups such as the subsets of “mothers”, “farmers”, “Swinomish”, “Catholics”, “musicians”, “soccer players”; the list goes on and on just as our communities and our world are endlessly diverse and complex.  If we listen to others, we will never stop learning new perspectives and stories.  We find a great sense of belonging when we interact in warm, unhurried, and respectful ways.  This interaction is what Hospice of the Northwest offers its volunteers and participants.

During my life I’ve found great joy, contentment, and challenge in working with others to make our communities healthy, whole, and full-of-life. Now that I am in the group of elders, I want to continue to grow and share within the community even though I am no longer the best person to be a full-time teacher or an on-the-knees gardener or the one to lead toddlers in active play!  Because I’ve had the opportunity to know and appreciate many other elders including close family members and close friends,

I know the importance of recognizing each individual and his/her life experiences, just as I appreciate having the opportunity to share my own stories and ideas.

Human relationships are the heart of the matter, and Hospice of the Northwest offers a very carefully and thoughtfully designed way to provide meaningful relationships during a fundamental time of transition, death.  After thorough training and with strong support, the volunteer can enter into someone’s presence and offer  and share

time, listening, smiles, and whatever thoughts and emotions are important to the individual or family at the moment.  Even though we may have many other relationships in life, this mutual trust and caring is unique in that there is an acknowledged need and an acknowledged understanding that everyone is helping each other just to be more fully human in the best sense.  Volunteers augment the professional staff in helping to lighten a bit the hard work of the care-takers and to sustain the individuality and value of each of the participants facing a crucial change.  I hope that we will all have someone(s) there with us when we pass through our last months, weeks, days, and moments in this life as we know it.