Cindy Jalbert, Care Dimensions hospice volunteer
Most days at 7 a.m., North Andover resident Cindy Jalbert reports to her volunteer job at the Andover/North Andover YMCA Child Care Center’s Pre-School Program. She doesn’t have to be there so early, but wants the kids to see a familiar face when they arrive.
Some afternoons, as a Care Dimensions hospice volunteer, Cindy visits a patient with a life-limiting illness.
“At the YMCA’s Child Care Center, I get to see people at the beginning of their lives,” says Cindy. “While at Care Dimensions, I see people at the end of their lives. This gives me a good balance.”
From bored retiree to busy volunteer
In 2015, Cindy retired from her job as an administrative assistant at a large Boston hospital.
“For those first retirement months, I was really bored,” she recalls. “Then I saw a newspaper advertisement for Care Dimensions hospice volunteers, so I called and enrolled in the required training.”
Cindy’s YMCA and Care Dimensions volunteer roles started within a few weeks of each other, and her retirement switched from bored to busy.
As a Care Dimensions hospice volunteer, Cindy visits patients who live at home or at assisted living facilities on the North Shore or in the Merrimack Valley. She recalls one patient whom she visited for two and a half years. Today, that patient’s bereaved family still stays in touch. Another patient, a 93-year-old woman, loved to share her travel photographs and reminisce about past trips and adventures.
“It was so meaningful for me to be there at the end of her life,” Cindy recalls.
Misunderstandings about hospice volunteering
Cindy finds both of her volunteer roles rewarding, but notes a difference in how people perceive or understand her work with hospice patients versus her work with pre-schoolers.
“I think we’re often afraid to talk about end of life and death, so some people cannot understand why someone would want to work with hospice,” she says. “But being a hospice volunteer brings many benefits to me and to my patients.”
Meanwhile, she says, “The kids at the YMCA keep me on my toes. So in retirement, I have found my true callings.”
Learn about our volunteer opportunities and our upcoming trainings.