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Hospice Volunteering
By SaraBeth Swain and Frank Skrip

We do not know where life will lead us. And when you find yourself on the doorstep of a hospice house, facing this universal truth often evokes a deep emotional response.

"I stood outside the Donnell House, and I was just angry. I had a bad attitude about it. I didn't want to be there. I didn't know why my husband needed to be there. The whole idea was just wrong to me…"

Clara Jean Thomas, a 67-year-old resident of Lone Pine, Pa, will tell you she was experiencing the grief stage of anger at that point, even though her husband of 44 years, Bill, was still on this earth. However, within minutes of walking inside the Donnell House – an inpatient hospice facility operated by Concordia Hospice of Washington – a calmness came over her that she didn't believe was possible in her life at that time.

Bill spent 10 days at the House with Jean and a revolving cast of family and friends before he peacefully passed away. Jean said she believes that, given the circumstances, those 10 days couldn't have been any better.

"When I left the Donnell House, I told the staff that we were treated so good I would undoubtedly be back to pay it forward," she said. "I knew right away that I needed to volunteer with this organization that had given so much to me and my family."

Many hospice volunteers share Jean's story. Life unexpectedly brought them to a doorstep of a place they did not want to be. Once inside, they experienced the warmth and compassion from those who stood on the doorstep before them. Some may call it the pay it forward effect. Others may call it their purpose. No matter the reason for volunteering, one thing is certain – hospice volunteers make a meaningful impact on the lives of the patients and their family members.

Visit Concordia Hospice of Washington online at www.ConcordiaHW.org for additional information and to take a virtual tour of the Donnell House. You may also call 724.250.4500 to speak with a Volunteer Coordinator about volunteer opportunities.

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