Voices of Care

It Fills Me With Purpose: Being a Hospice Volunteer in Greater Boston

Posted on September 4, 2019 by Mary Gifford

Mary Gifford of Malden, MA, is a Care Dimensions hospice volunteer.

How I Became a Hospice Volunteer

My first interaction with Care Dimensions’ hospice care was in 2015 when my mom was living in the Winchester Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. While there, Care Dimensions volunteers visited with her, and they were so wonderful and had a very positive impact on her.

Seeing this made me realize that volunteering was something that I really could do. I felt that it would be something to help restore myself after my mom passed, and a way to bring joy to other patients.

After both my mom and my uncle died at the end of 2016, I decided that I needed to stop working at my current job and I became a hospice volunteer.

That is when I began my journey, and I have been volunteering with Care Dimensions for two years now.

The Hospice Volunteer at Work

I visit patients at their homes and at nursing homes, and I enjoy both settings. Anywhere that I am able to have a positive impact on someone is where I feel like I did my part. The experience that I have had so far volunteering has been so rewarding and fulfilling. I feel that as a volunteer, I get so much more than I give. Doing this just emotionally touches me and fills me with purpose. Having the patients open their homes and their hearts to me has been so endearing. Although I am thankful for my former work life, I feel that now as a hospice volunteer, I get more reward in one week than I did working at a normal job for over 20 years. It is amazing to me.

I have fond memories of some patients whom I have had the pleasure of seeing over the past couple of years. I have connected so deeply with many of them. One of the patients used to introduce me to people as her best friend, and that filled my heart. Another patient always wanted to hold my hand. She used to have visitors come in and out of her house, and when they would leave, she would squeeze my hand tighter and say, “Not you! Not you!” because she didn’t want me to go. To have such an impact on someone who is going through that time in their life is incredible.

Getting Support from the Volunteer Department

I feel supported by the Volunteer Department at Care Dimensions. The volunteer training that I attended was so informative and gave me skills that help me in my work.

I am also able to connect with my fellow volunteers through the volunteer meetings that are held by Care Dimensions when I am able to talk with others about the experiences that we’ve had and learn some helpful tips. The volunteer coordinators are also a great source of instruction and information, and are always there to help if I have any questions. Having a great support system contributes to me being able to do my best job as a volunteer.

This whole experience has not only impacted the patients that I see, but it has also truly helped me to grow emotionally, and it is one of the best things that I have done. I look forward to continuing my volunteer work with Care Dimensions and being able to meet and interact with many more wonderful patients.

About the author

Mary Gifford is a Malden resident who has been volunteering with Care Dimensions since 2017.

Want to make a profound difference in someone's life? Call 888-283-1722 to inquire about our September 2019 new-volunteer training programs in greater Boston and on the North Shore.  Or complete our online volunteer application

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.