When I decided to join Montgomery Hospice as a volunteer, most of my college friends expressed disbelief: “Why would you want to do that? That sounds so depressing!” At nineteen, I think it is safe to say that I am one of the youngest volunteers at Montgomery Hospice. I decided to volunteer for hospice for two main reasons: My best friend's mom received care through Montgomery Hospice a couple of years ago. I had never heard of end-of-life care, and I was impressed by the compassionate support that the hospice team provided. I also wanted to gain experience working with patients, as I intend to work in the medical field when I graduate.
Young people do not usually dwell on thoughts of death or sickness. Working closely with the dying has been, for me, a very grounding and humbling experience. The patients I visited generously shared their thoughts on what has meant most to them in life. I will always remember watching Mrs. W smile as she told me stories from her youth in China, our common heritage, and seeing her grandchildren poke their heads around the corner. I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon running errands with Mrs. W, while she shared with me stories about her family and her work abroad. When I spent a morning with Mrs. D, I learned the importance of community service in a full, fruitful life. Mrs. D and her husband of sixty years had spent their life together volunteering at their church; when her husband became ill, the church faithfully delivered weekly meals for the devoted couple. These courageous people have inspired me to live so that I, at the end, will reflect on my life peacefully and joyfully.
The Montgomery Hospice mission statement, “to gentle the journey through serious illness and loss with skill and compassion,” does not even begin to show all that this organization does. The patients with whom I visited really love all the members of their supporting team. The relationships forged between the hospice workers and the patients are deeply personal, creating a community of caring. I feel honored and blessed to have played a part in this wonderful program.