Hospice and Home Care of Juneau thrives on volunteers

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2007

Neighbors extending helping hands are nothing new to Juneau, but that volunteer spirit contributes immensely to the ways that Hospice and Home Care of Juneau can serve members of our community.

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Some 90 people volunteered to support the organization's work in the past year, said Kim Redifer, HHCJ program director. More than 40 of them contributed repeatedly or in several different ways. Volunteers who pay weekly visits to assist clients in their homes, or who help facilitate grief support groups, are specially trained in the grief process, communication, and other skills. Other less formal opportunities are to help with annual events such as the Herbert Glacier Trail Run (scheduled this year for Aug. 18) or the Light Up Your Life celebration held every year around the Christmas holiday.

One kind of opportunity more and more Juneauites are learning about is the chance to serve as a special project volunteer. That may involve sharing only a few hours in order to heighten the quality of a neighbor's life.

"Everyone has a specific skill they could contribute to others in the community even once a year," said Jean Jasmine, HHCJ bereavement counselor and coordinator of volunteer services. "Perhaps you could help someone make a scrap book of family photos. Or help with minor home repairs or installing a ramp or safety equipment. You might provide a truck to help move a hospital bed from a client's home. Or help a client organize her finances or learn to use email. You could read to a patient or provide pet care, or teach a client journaling or art therapy. All these activities can contribute immensely to a client's quality of life."

Other volunteer projects contribute to Hospice and Home Care's ongoing ability to serve the community. Last fall several volunteers organized the agency's library of references on dealing with grief and bereavement so books are available for loan to both staff and community members. And in June volunteers from Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club collected materials and built shelving to organize the HHCJ Loan Closet, where durable medical equipment (crutches, canes, wheelchairs, commodes, shower chairs, etc.) is stored so it can be loaned free of charge to anyone who needs it.

Jasmine keeps a drawerful of files in her office showing the kinds of talents and skills potential volunteers are willing to share. It includes categories ranging from Aromatherapy to Fundraising, from Hearing and Vision Aids to Videography. "I'd love to see everyone in Juneau be a Hospice volunteer," Jasmine said. "I'd like people to know that Hospice is a service for them - and that they can also contribute as volunteers." HHCJ volunteers give an average of 3,000 hours of service to patients and families of HHCJ as well as many other community members."

To serve as a special project volunteer, you can simply contact Jasmine to fill out a simple application. She will keep your application on file unter the category of skills you are willing to contribute. Then, when a need arises, she will call you and see if the time and place fit for you. You can also ask to be put on an email list announcing special project volunteer opportunities as they come up. For those who would like to consider a commitment to long-term service, HHCJ staff and experienced volunteers will be offering a 26-hour course in Bereavement Training this fall between Sept. 15 and Oct. 13. For information on all these opportunities, contact Jean Jasmine at 463-6134 or jean.jasmine@ccsjuneau.org.

• Marge Hermans is a Hospice and Home Care of Juneau volunteer. Hospice and Home Care of Juneau is a program of Catholic Community Service. CCS serves all persons regardless of their faith.

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