April is National Volunteer Month, a time to honor and thank the people who give of their time and talent to Our Lady of Peace and the people we serve. Most have two legs, and some have four, but their contributions are valued equally.
In 2019, OLP volunteers logged over 5,432 hours in service to our home and community hospice. From staffing our front desk to serving meals, working events, and providing companionship to our patients, they support the work we do, helping to make it possible for us to provide care at no cost.
OLP Volunteer Manager Michelle Buron says volunteers come to us because they want to give back. “Many have experienced the passing of a loved one in our care, but all are committed to being there for the patients and families we serve. Their commitment has been particularly evident during this time of social distancing, as volunteers continue to show compassion through hand-written cards and phone calls to patients and their families.”
Steven Geis has volunteered at OLP for over four decades, beginning at age 4. “When I started, I was comic relief and provided entertainment for the patients,” he said. “My dad was the medical director and he sometimes brought me and my siblings to work. Sister Imelda would roller skate in the halls and I would accompany her into patient rooms when they invited us in. It made people smile.”
The Geis children also sang in the halls on holidays, accompanied by their mother on the piano, served Sunday lunch to patients and staff, and did the dishes. The tradition of volunteering continues with the Geis family to this day. They feel so connected to Our Lady of Peace, even having one of their daughters, Faith Imelda, named for Sister Imelda. “Volunteering at Our Lady of Peace is a priority and volunteer service has made all of us comfortable with death, realizing that it’s part of life.”
Steven Geis is duly noted as Our Lady of Peace’s longest running volunteer. “Volunteering puts me in a different frame of mind,” says Steven. “No more woe is me. I feel blessed to be in good health and that there is a place like OLP where people receive compassionate care.”
At OLP, people play to their strengths and talents,” says Michelle Buron. “Everyone is unique and brings something different to the table.” Michelle says that hospice patients tend to speak candidly with volunteers who become friends. “They share things that they don’t want family members to worry about, and because most volunteers have lost a loved one, they get that.”
Our Lady of Peace is deeply grateful for the dedication of all of our volunteers and therapy dogs and this month in particular, we want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to all of you!
We are looking forward your return, once the threat of COVID-19 has passed and we want to continue to build our volunteer program to be stronger than ever. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Michelle Buron at 651-789-6824.