COLUMN: April is National Volunteer Month

Published 7:30 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

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April is a special month for all hospices, as it is National Volunteer Month. Though we appreciate our volunteers daily, having a special month to honor them is dear to our hearts.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing April as National Volunteer Month. Since then, every U.S. president has signed a Proclamation promoting National Volunteer Month. During April, volunteers are honored and appreciated for the generous time and talent devoted to their communities, civic organizations, businesses, charities, and individuals.

It is federally mandated, under Medicare, that trained volunteers provide five percent of all patient care hours. This requirement underscores the vital role that hospice volunteers play in caring for the dying and their family caregivers. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) reports that in a year, an estimated 458,000 hospice volunteers provide more than 21 million hours of service to hospice programs.

Volunteers play a significant role in hospice agencies. “We are grateful to our volunteers every day of the year, but National Volunteer Week is a time when we can celebrate all they do and remind everyone that hospice and palliative care volunteers are angels working among us,” said J: Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

Many hospice volunteer opportunities are available for men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Hospice has two types of volunteers: Indirect Patient Care Volunteers and Direct Patient Care Volunteers. 

Indirect service volunteers assist the office staff in answering telephones, typing letters, helping with special events, and performing various clerical tasks.

Direct patient care volunteers relieve primary caregivers, help with meal preparation, plant a garden or flowers, read to the patient, help write cards and letters, offer comfort to the patient and family, and provide other types of companionship. However, please note that hospice volunteers cannot provide direct patient care.

In Hospice, we believe that every moment of life is a treasure to be lived. If you are interested in making a difference by becoming a hospice volunteer or would like more information on volunteering for Hospice, please call the Hospice of your choice. You may also contact Aveanna Hospice at 334-427-4000 and speak with Mrs. Judy Ramsey. If you’d like, please feel free to come by the Andalusia office at 820 South Three Notch Street, Suite C.

“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.” Author unknown

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice).