While we all live through one of the greatest challenges most of us have ever faced, volunteer organizations that support our community every day are still hard at work.
One of those is Compass Regional Hospice. This year, Compass celebrates 35 years serving patients and families in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties facing a life-limiting diagnosis. They provide “care on your terms” for everyone, from small children to centenarians, through comprehensive, professional and compassionate care and grief support.
In the midst of a national health emergency, their clinical care team continues to serve patients at the Centreville and Chestertown Hospice Centers, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, and in patients’ homes. The bereavement team and social workers continue to provide emotional and psychosocial support to those struggling with grief and maintaining their mental health.
April is National Volunteer Month, so if you want a way to help our community, Compass can put you to work. I have volunteered with Compass since 2007 helping patients and their families. I wasn’t sure that I could help people confronting life-limiting illnesses, but volunteering with Compass has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. I have worked with patients at both in-patient centers, in assisted living and nursing homes, and most often, in their homes. I have no health care background, but Compass has provided all of the training and support I have needed.
Compass Volunteers know, without question, that their help is needed and valued. Volunteers give caregivers some respite: time to grocery shop, go to the doctor, visit other family members, take a walk or just take a nap. We offer companionship to patients who cannot leave home, playing cards, listening to music, watching old movies, reading books, saying prayers, or just chatting. We do vigils with patients when their families cannot be there.
As a Compass volunteer, I have met wonderful people I might never have known otherwise. Veterans who fought In Vietnam and World War II. People who still remembered World War I. Surgeons, farmers, homemakers, and people who worked at the bank, the grocery store, the insurance company. People who loved Ella Fitzgerald, Mozart or the Rolling Stones. People who loved old movies or television westerns.
Other volunteers help out with fundraising campaigns, answer phones or staff Estate Treasures in Chester, MD, an upscale resale shop that features gently worn or carefully used donated “treasures” to help offset unfunded hospice care and grief support.
Want to get involved? Let me count the ways. If you are able, please donate. Like most non-profits, Compass depends on generous gifts to cover their unmet costs. Health care is expensive, but Compass never turns down anyone who needs care, so even small donations help. Volunteers cannot work directly with patients right now, but when the coronavirus has passed, volunteers will be able to hold a patient’s hand, support his caregiver, or help out in the office. Stuck at home? Do your Spring cleaning. You might unearth items you no longer need to donate to Estate Treasures. Do you sew? Right now they need face masks for medical staff risking their lives to care for others.
For more information, consult the Compass Website at http://compassregionalhospice.org. If you would like to volunteer, contact Volunteer Coordinator Robyn Affron. Now is the time to do what you can for our community.