Michelle Buron manages over 100 volunteers at Our Lady of Peace Hospice in multiple roles. The roles range from sitting with patients and delivering meals to administrative support and orchestrating events. Michelle says she views her job as a fun activity that she gets to do every day. “I love this job, and I feel honored, privileged, and blessed to have been placed in this position.”
In 2012, Michelle became an OLP volunteer, visiting patients out in our hospice communities. “I loved being a friend to patients whose families were not available, especially patients with dementia,” she says. “I always knew I wanted to volunteer with elderly people because it bothers me that we come into the world, dependent, become independent, and then become dependent again. I wanted to make the last transition easier for people.” Now, in her role as volunteer manager, Michelle is able to serve more patients with the help of other compassionate people.
Michelle marvels at the compassion of OLP volunteers, across all services. She says, “Whether they’re young or older, they have a passion every assignment. They do it without pay, and they give 100%. It’s amazing to watch.”
OLP Volunteers are required to complete 8-11 hours of online training focused on how to be a hospice volunteer, what to expect, and the philosophy of hospice. Beyond this training that meets Medicare guidelines, an additional 3-4 hours of classroom orientation is required, currently done virtually. Volunteers are screened and background checks are conducted.
Volunteers choose what they want to do at Our Lady of Peace, and their selections change over time within our residential home, patient homes, and our hospice communities. Michelle says, “Those with on-going one-one-one patient contact sometimes need to take a break from the emotional impact of the inevitable loss, so they do something else for a while.”
OLP Social Worker Kelly Pietrzak once told Michelle, “It’s nice to have the volunteers because there’s no agenda to their visit. They can just give them one-on-one attention.”
Michelle recalls many positive outcomes of working with her volunteers. She shared a story about Sally, who one day was asked by nursing staff to sit with a patient, and while Sally was there, the patient took their last breath, while Sally held her hand. Michelle says, “It’s in these moments, that I know we’re living our mission.”
OLP Volunteer Director Kim Perez says, “Michelle radiates positivity in all she does, even during a pandemic. And, because she has been a volunteer herself, she keenly understands the importance of the volunteer role in our overall mission. She even volunteered to help in other departments to keep things running smoothly during the pandemic. OLP is blessed to have her as part of the team!”