If you had a chance to make someone’s final days extra special, how would you help? Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care in Philadelphia seeks volunteers to help support its signature Gift of a Day program, which brings to life a hospice patient’s personal vision of what a perfect day might be.
This Crossroads Hospice volunteer opportunity is based on the question: “If you had one perfect day, what would it look like?” The answer has led to a flight in a vintage Air Force biplane for a World War II Veteran, a Blues legend’s return trip to Beale Street in Memphis for a special performance and a horse and carriage ride around a scenic lake for a former equestrienne.
Hospice volunteers helped create these special memories – and many more like them – for Crossroads patients. Crossroads volunteers play a vital role in caring for some of the 1.5 million American families with a loved one on hospice care. Many volunteers find assisting with a Gift of a Day to be a particularly meaningful experience.
One teen-aged volunteer and her Bichon Frise recently joined five other dog owners and their pets to pay a special Gift of a Day visit to a patient who loved dogs and missed keeping them. Amid much tail-wagging and laughter, the young volunteer said seeing the joy her visit brought to the man was a deeply touching experience that helped her grow as a person.
In addition to helping with a Gift of a Day, volunteers are welcome to share their favorite activities like reading, playing cards or other games, listening to music, or arts and crafts. They might also help create a Life Journal for a patient and his/her family, a beautiful leather-bound keepsake of meaningful moments and milestones. Or they may choose to run errands, assist in the office, or make companion visits and provide welcome respite for family members.
“We call our volunteers ‘Ultimate Givers’ because they selflessly give extra comfort and compassion to terminally-ill patients and their families,” says volunteer manager Kimberly Mumper. “They have an incredible willingness to help and learn, and they gain so much from the experience.”
Before becoming a Crossroads Hospice “Ultimate Giver,” participants must complete an application, TB skin test, and training session led by members of the Crossroads team. Potential volunteers must wait a minimum of one year after the death of an immediate family member or loved one before applying.