Polly Brown - Why I Serve
- By: Sharon Davidson
In case you weren’t already aware, Jefferson County is home to its very own Super Woman in the form of Polly Brown. A native Floridian who has resided in Monticello since birth, Ms. Brown is a prominent local figure who can be found dedicating her time to those around her. Not only is she a faithful and passionate Big Bend Hospice volunteer, she is also a respected member of their Jefferson County Advisory Council. After the passing of her late husband, Forrest, Ms. Brown felt called to serve with Big Bend Hospice and has been an irreplaceable member of the team since 1997. As we celebrate the 20-year anniversary of her time with BBH, we would like to thank her for her unwavering service to those in her community.
BBH: Tell us a little about yourself.
PB: I’ve lived in Monticello all of my life. I’m 78 years old and I have been a widow for 21 years. I love to garden, I enjoy having flowers in my yard. I enjoy doing work at my church and spending time with my two little grandchildren who live in Tallahassee. I am a charter member of the Big Bend Hospice Jefferson County Advisory Council. For 20 years I’ve helped do outreach in the community; educating people on what hospice is and what it isn’t.
BBH: What was your work experience before hospice?
PB: I was an elementary school teacher for several years but quit when I had children. Later, I went back to work with my husband at a business we owned in downtown Monticello. After I retired and my husband passed away, I became involved with Big Bend Hospice.
BBH: Were you apprehensive about volunteering?
PB: I was a little nervous at first because it was a new adventure for me. But got over quickly when I found out that it is very rewarding.
BBH: Aside from being recognized as an “Angel in Our Midst” by Channel 27 News in 2000, a quote from a BBH volunteer coordinator calls you “an extraordinary volunteer” who “is an asset to BBH and Jefferson Co, exemplifying hospice care”. What do you think are some traits of an exemplary volunteer?
PB: Commitment to the work is a necessary trait. I feel you should really get to know the families and try to be faithful to them, listen to their needs and try to fill those needs. You should be willing to help in any way. For the first 8 years that the hospice house was open, I went to Tallahassee twice a month and was at the front desk. I did other things too like arrange flowers, visit patients, just helped wherever I could.
BBH: In regards to using the services offered by BBH for your late husband, you are quoted as saying “If I had to do it over again, I would have contacted them sooner.” Why do you think it’s so important for families to utilize BBH and get help soon rather than later?
PB: I said that quote because 20 years ago we didn’t realize how important it was to get into the program early. My husband was sick for a while and I didn’t have the information that we have now. I actually didn’t request hospice services until shortly before his death but benefited from their team approach immediately. Now the Advisory Council has been doing more to get the word out to people, encouraging them to request these services sooner rather than later. It’s important because they need help and we can give it to them. I think it is important we educate our community not to wait until the end to request hospice. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to die the next day, it means we can be helpful to you before the end comes.
BBH: What has been one of your most memorable experience volunteering?
PB: It would be hard to pick a favorite; I have so many good ones. They’ve all been rewarding. In 1998, I was selected as the “Patient Family Volunteer of the Year.” I went to the volunteer luncheon sponsored by the Tallahassee Democrat. That was especially nice. I can truly say I have received more from doing this than I have given. It has been a blessing and I remain friends with many of the families that I have served.
BBH: How have you grown volunteering with BBH?
PB: I would say in my understanding of serving other people and being aware of the needs of those around you.
BBH: If you could say anything to a potential Big Bend Hospice volunteer, what would it be?
PB: I would tell them that they would receive more than they give. It is just such a blessing to know that you have helped other people. Your rewards will be greater than you could ever imagine.
Big Bend Hospice recognized Polly’s dedication to the hospice patients in her community and to the Jefferson Advisory Council at the organization’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon held on April 29, 2017 in Tallahassee. She was awarded her 20 year service pin and received accolades from her peers. We congratulate Polly Brown for her continued dedication and service in her community through BBH.
If you or someone you know would like serve like Melissa, contact the volunteer department at 850-878-5310