Southern Care Hospice volunteers will be recognized

Published 11:00 am Saturday, April 15, 2023

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Southern Care Hospice will recognize its volunteers for Volunteer Appreciation Week from April 16-21 as they play a vital role in helping provide care and support to their patients every day.

Based in Evergreen, Southern Care Hospice provides care to patients in Conecuh and Covington counties.

“This week is set aside for volunteers in your community and is not limited to hospice volunteers. Volunteers are vital in the community from a hospice perspective to helping with different things hospice provides for patients,” Volunteer Coordinator Jodie Williams said.

Mattie Freeney has been a volunteer with Southern Care Hospice for eight years.

“I enjoy helping people and seeing them with a sigh of relief on their faces after taking comfort in knowing someone is there to care for them. Most patients want to let you help, but some are reluctant and have to be told you are there for them. We make sure to be there for the caregiver and offer them the opportunity to rest,” Freeney said.

Hospice care is for people with a life-limiting illness who have a life expectancy of six months or less and choose to focus on comfort care over treatment. Hospice works with patients and families to develop a plan of care specific to their individual needs.

Freeney shared the importance of meeting patients’ specific needs.

“When they leave the home, we have a good understanding of what is required of us. We try to talk to them when we go and make their day good. We want them to smile by talking to them, reading to them, and building that camaraderie. It’s a delight and a relief as long as their mind isn’t on their mind or something else.”

Williams referred to hospice as a service instead of a place.

“It doesn’t matter where a person lives. Nurses will visit patients’ homes twice a week or occasionally more. Hospice aides assist with bathing and daily living skills. Chaplains are available for spiritual support, and social workers help with light bills or groceries. It’s camaraderie of different services we are able to offer. Volunteers are vital because they are a support system and give caregivers some relief.”

Southern Care Hospice provides three basic mechanisms to patients: making sure patients are not in pain, helping with the best quality of life, and being there for families.

“We try to make sure the family understands hospice will be there as long as it takes. We are not here to speed up the process and cannot change it. I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and patients look forward to volunteers visiting. They serve as a friend and relate, which relieves some of the caregivers’ stress,” Williams said.

Freeney’s main duty is to be there for comfort and strength.

“I follow their lead, but my main issue is trying to convince caregivers they need to take care of themselves. In many instances, there is only one caregiver. I want them to know I am there for them. I go along with the subject they want to talk about,” she said.

According to Williams, those in hospice need to be genuine and compassionate.

“You don’t have to have a background in healthcare but must have your COVID vaccine. We conduct background checks and drug tests before orientation where you learn what you can and cannot do in hospice. Our volunteers are tested for tuberculosis (TB) and thoroughly checked before entering homes. Volunteers cannot give medications and don’t do any hands-on care because they are a support system.”

Volunteers typically have three patients at one time. “If it weren’t for Jodie, I would probably not be doing this. I will tell anybody Jodie is the best supervisor and does not give up or quit. She is very encouraging when we go through all the training, which is very beneficial. It’s amazing how much you can learn,” Freeney said. “You don’t want to overwhelm yourself because this program is all about helping others and providing care,” Williams said.

Southern Care Hospice is located at 116 Edwina Street in Evergreen and seeking more volunteers in Covington County. Those interested in becoming a volunteer should visit the main office on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information visit, email, or call 251-216-4349 or Williams at 334-313-5393.

“I retired to travel, but this has been fulfilling, and I truly enjoy being a volunteer for Southern Care Hospice,” Freeney said.