She never saw it coming. Becky Gallentine, volunteer with Gentiva Hospice, was in a care planning meeting when Kevin Schoedinger and Julie Olds from Schoedinger Funeral Home came in with flowers and balloons. She was announced as the May winner of the Hospice Caregiver Award $100 gift card. Her peers cheered and congratulated her….and she never saw it coming.
Susan Manecke, Volunteer Coordinator with Gentiva Hospice, nominated Becky and here is what she wrote:
Bright, soft spoken, enthusiastic and genuine, Becky is a committed volunteer who goes above and beyond to support and care for hospice patients. Always seeking opportunities to ensure that patients’ last days, weeks or months are the best they can be, Becky gives of her time and talents tin a myriad of ways: from singing, reading, sharing stories or chatting with patients to answering phones in the office, sitting in for the volunteer manager at care plan meetings, as well as creating original quilts from patients’ T-shirts as a unique and warm way to display and enjoy memories. Most recently Becky has added “vigil volunteer” to her repertoire of thoughtful and significant ways to offer support to hospice patients and their families. Willing to travel around Central Ohio at a moment’s notice, Becky sits with patients for whom death is imminent, perhaps only a few minutes or hours away. Bringing music with her – favorites she might sing or play from her phone – or reading aloud, or simply by being present, she helps make patients’ last moments peaceful and serene. At the same time she gives family members relief, and opportunity to have a few minutes to themselves knowing their loved ones are safe and comfortable with such a gently, caring volunteer. Becky has sat “vigil” with patients for hours, sometimes there at the time of death. Being there at the time of a patient’s passing brings a profound sense of peace, rather than sadness, when the volunteer’s presence has helped the patient have a “good death.” Becky’s brief but significant relationship with hospice patients and families has made a tremendous impact on their ability to grieve and more forward with their own lives.
A hospice nurse made a special effort to report to the Manager of Volunteer Services that Becky “…is by far the best volunteer I have had the pleasure of working with in all my thirty-plus years of nursing. Thank you for sharing her with my patients!” Becky has been selected “Volunteer of the Month” several times over the past few years, and “Volunteer of the Year” in 2013.
Always an advocate for hospice and the patients she visits, Becky currently sees seven patients, some as far away as Marion. In addition to weekly visits to her patients, in the past two months alone, she has been present as vigil volunteer with more than eight patients, one at Christmas. Becky has visited hospice patients in facilities or their own homes for five years, making a difference in the lives of at least a hundred families. The lasting, comforting effect on those she has helped is immeasurable.
Becky’s dedication to hospice and the patients she visits clearly demonstrates her strong faith and desire to help others. In her efficient, effective way, Becky positively impacts the community one patient, one family at a time. Hospice is not an easy topic to broach; indeed, most people quickly change the subject from any reference to end of life care or indicate their lack of interest with a comment such as “isn’t hospice about death?” She has not only brought comfort to patients and families, she has also, through her words and deeds brought others into the Gentiva team of volunteers. Friends, and even her mother, are Gentiva volunteers, visiting patients, helping in the office, and sharing their experiences with others in the community. Through her warm, thoughtful, caring actions, Becky has become an educator about the benefits of hospice, the importance of connecting with others to join the volunteer team, and most importantly, recognizing the needs of hospice patients and the wonder of a “good death.”
Congratulations, Becky. Your peers have recognized the wonderful work you do.
For more information about the Hospice Caregiver Award program, please visit our website at www.schoedinger.com and click on “Community Events”
Julie is the Director of Community Relations at Schoedinger Funeral Service.