Volunteering at hospices proves to be invaluable

  • Donna Babiarz of Northbrook has volunteered with JourneyCare for more than 10 years in a number of different roles.

    Donna Babiarz of Northbrook has volunteered with JourneyCare for more than 10 years in a number of different roles. Courtesy of JourneyCare

 
By Donna Babiarz
Posted11/28/2016 6:00 AM

I didn't know about this organization until I worked for the company that built the administration building in Glenview. The people I met were all so lovely and I learned a lot about the mission and how they deliver hospice and palliative care.

So once I retired, I came straight here, because the volunteer department was where I wanted to be. That was more than 10 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

I have served in many roles, including as a patient care volunteer in nursing homes, helping the JourneyCare's Marketing & Communications Department, and working in the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter in Glenview. I especially love the CareCenter, because I feel like I am really contributing something and the patients and families are really, really glad to have me there.

There is an incredible feeling of warmth there. Being able to spend time and identify with people who were strangers prior to that very moment is so rewarding. People here are facing end-of-life issues, and that is foreign territory for them. They are lonely, scared and, in some cases, angry. So to sit and hold somebody's hand or have them cry on your shoulder -- that's what it's all about.

My volunteer work is particularly meaningful to patients who are alone. They know someone is there who cares for them and loves them. And when you are present when they die, it is comforting to the patient, their family and the volunteer; you feel you have helped them from this life into the next.

This work has made me a stronger, more confident person. I am more able to get through my own personal struggles well and have good results. I have learned that I am wanted and needed, especially because the JourneyCare staff is so wonderful about making us feel like we are the best thing that has ever happened.

I have also learned to accept death a lot more and have found that is a soft landing, rather than something so harsh. For all these reasons, my time with JourneyCare has been invaluable.

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