Volunteering for Big Bend Hospice: What You Need To Know
- By: Anne Beaver
A Q and A with Volunteer Dept. Manager Katie Mandell
Community volunteers are essential partners in the mission of Big Bend Hospice and serve alongside our staff in a variety of roles. You’ll learn everything you need to know to prepare for a meaningful volunteer experience in this Q and A with Volunteer Department Manager Katie Mandell.
Question: People can be intimidated by Hospice. What is it like to volunteer for an organization that serves people who are dying?
Answer: Not all volunteers have direct contact with patients. We have Vigil Volunteers who provide companionship to patients and families during the final hours of life, but there are so many ways to serve. We have volunteers who do administrative tasks. We have volunteers who make quilts. We have volunteers who plan fundraisers. Regardless of where your comfort level is, we have a role for you.
Also, remember that Hospice patients can have weeks or months to live. Our goal is to help them make the most of that time. Simply talking with a patient or playing a game of cards can brighten their day, and volunteers enjoy that time too. Working with a patient often isn’t a sad experience.
Q: What training do you provide?
A: All volunteers must pass a level-two background check and complete orientation and training. They’re also required to attend one continuing education in-service each year. We cover a range of topics and work with other departments to provide a well-rounded training experience. This prepares volunteers to work in the Hospice setting and helps them communicate with and relate to patients and families.
Q: What time commitment is required?
A: We ask that each volunteer commit to at least one year of service. As far as a weekly or monthly time commitment, we work with volunteers based on their schedule. We are relationship people and encourage breaks and balance.
Q: What age are volunteers?
A: Volunteers must be at least 18. Other than that, we have volunteers of all ages. Some are college students who are preparing for careers in social work or medicine. Others are professionals who volunteer at night or on the weekends. Others are retirees, Veterans, grandparents. We have a place for everyone.
Q: What commitment does BBH make to volunteers?
A: We have a professionally managed Volunteer Department dedicated to maintaining a team of trained and engaged volunteers. We ensure that the volunteer experience is organized and that we use our volunteers’ time wisely. We help each volunteer identify a role that complements their skills, availability and comfort level. We rely on volunteers, and we want them to enjoy serving
Q: How does BBH appreciate volunteers?
A: BBH could not provide the same level of compassionate care and support without volunteers. To put this into perspective, in 2018, we had 318 volunteers who provided 20,808 hours of service at a value of over $456,000! Every April, we have a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon where we recognize all volunteers and have a milestone pinning ceremony to celebrate those who have served five, 10, 15 and 20+ years. We also have a gift basket raffle organized by BBH employees. We can’t thank our volunteers enough!
Q: If someone is interested in volunteering, how do they sign up?
A: The first step is filling out and submitting an application. Then someone from the Volunteer Department will contact you to talk about the background check and to schedule training and orientation. We host training for new volunteers six times a year. I urge anyone who’s interested to contact the Volunteer Department at 850-878-5310 or visit https://www.bigbendhospice.org/volunteer.