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Plymouth woman shares experiences of longtime volunteering for Hospice

September 17, 2012

Pauline Pierson

PLYMOUTH — It’s been 27 years since Pauline Pierson, of Plymouth, first heard about volunteering for the Center for Hospice Care.
She knew right away that Hospice would be a good fit for her.
“A friend of mine was telling me that Hospice would be coming to South Bend,” said Pierson, adding that she lived in South Bend at the time. “I asked her, ‘What is Hospice?’ She told me, and I knew that was something I might be interested in doing.”
Pierson took volunteer training and started out with patient care and helping with office work. Later, she moved on to bereavement calling — counseling those who had lost a loved one.
“I guess you could say I’ve done several different things in Hospice,” said Pierson. “I’ve always been so impressed with Hospice and it’s been a blessing to know the people involved and the patients.”
Pierson continued to work with Hospice even after the office moved to Plymouth. Coincidentally, Pierson and her husband moved to Plymouth around the same time.
“I never missed one meeting,” said Pierson, smiling. “I just stepped right in to (working in) Plymouth.”
An experience that Pierson will always remember is dealing with one patient, a woman who didn’t understand much English.
“She was the longest duration patient we’ve ever had, about two years,” said Pierson. “I learned music therapy, foot massage therapy…to help her. She always insisted on being next to the garage door when her husband came home from work, and her head was always cold because she didn’t have hair.”
Pierson decided to make the woman a hat to keep her head warm.
“She was so pleased with that, as simple as it was,” remembered Pierson.
Pierson visited the woman in the hospital as she drew close to the end of her life. Shortly before her death, the woman placed a necklace around Pierson’s neck herself, although she was too weak to speak.
“That was so emotional for me — I knew it was from her heart and it was her way of saying goodbye, and thank you,” said Pierson.
Pierson thinks that working with Hospice is one of the most rewarding volunteer opportunities available.
“You have the opportunity to be with a person during a very critical time in their life,” said Pierson. “You should be a good listener, because the patient will share all kinds of things with you, that maybe they think they can’t share with their family.”
Opportunities at Center for Hospice Care include: patient care, companionship, bereavement callers, office support, massage therapy, veteran to veteran counseling, and hair stylist or barber services. Fall training — 15 total hours — is coming up October 15, 17, 23, 25, and 30 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. No previous medical experience is necessary to volunteer. To register for fall training sessions, contact Valerie Eads at 574-286-1198 or email her at eadsv@centerforhospice.org
Center for Hospice is located at 112 S. Center Street in Plymouth.

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