By LINDA M. LINONIS
Crossroads Hospice is looking for volunteers with compassionate hearts and good listening skills.
And, if you’re a veteran, that’s a bonus — because veterans to serve other veterans are especially needed.
Rebecca Clark is volunteer manager for Crossroads Hospice, which serves patients in 10 Northeast Ohio counties, including Columbiana, Trumbull and Mahoning.
Crossroads Hospice includes a Vet to Vet program to connect volunteers with veterans who are patients; Gift of a Day zeroes in on special wishes; Life Journal is about a keepsake book; and Gift of Giving through the Art of Living involves creative projects.
Clark said Crossroads Hospice developed a Veterans Recognition Program. “We give a certificate of recognition, a flag pin and sing patriotic songs, including those from the branches of service,” she said. “Typically, it’s a family event.”
Clark said experience has shown Crossroads staff that a veteran-to-veteran experience has an especially positive outcome because they relate to one another through the service connection.
The hospice also will create a life-journal as a keepsake for all patients and their families. Clark said volunteers interview patients, when possible, and family members. From their stories, a chronicle of the patient’s life is written, supplemented with photos, and compiled into a green, leather-bound book. A set of questions is provided to volunteers as a guideline. Clark said family members are given a copy to proof for accuracy and make photo identifications. An English teacher on staff also checks the material.
“This is our way of making a difference in their lives ... they leave their stories for their families,” Clark said. “It also helps in closure for the family.”
Those in Crossroads Hospice care have a life expectancy of a year or less, Clark said. “We serve patients in hospitals, other facilities and their homes,” she said. “It’s not only about a peaceful passing, but a life legacy.”
Volunteers perform a variety of services such as reading to the patient, playing cards with them, running errands and giving respite to family caregivers. Clark said one volunteer, a retired nurse, helps make bereavement calls. “Volunteers offer compassion and companionship,” Clark said.
In the fall, Crossroads will partner with Youngstown State University in the life-journal project. Students will interview patients and their families.
Crossroads’ Gift of the Day allows patients and families to participate in a special activity. Clark said the program is tailored to the wish of each person. Crossroads has arranged for such events as an Elvis impersonator to visit, family dinner, “trip to Hawaii” in the form of a luau, a marriage-vow renewal, a tattoo and visit to the zoo with behind-the-scenes tour of the penguin area for a penguin-figurine collector. For an artist with Parkinson’s, an art class was arranged at his living facility so he could share that activity with others.
“We find a way to make it happen,” said Dan DelliQuadri, provider relations, who works in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties. He noted that the life books “are a keepsake and part of the grieving process.”
Kate Davis, provider relations in Mahoning and Columbiana counties, also is a certified dementia practitioner and virtual-dementia tour trainer. Her job covers educating family members and medical staff about dementia. “The virtual tour takes a person to what it’s like to have dementia,” Davis said. “It’s sensitivity-training to help volunteers and others who work with patients.”
The hospice office is in Green, Ohio, and its corporate headquarters is in Tulsa, Okla. Currently, about 500 patients are in Crossroads Hospice.
To volunteer, contact Clark at 330-776-3322 or email her at Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org.