COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Whether it’s office work, watercolor painting, playing music or just reading a book, one local hospice care agency is asking the public to volunteer their talents to terminally diagnosed patients.
Brazos County resident Marie Hallford knew when she retired a few years ago that she wanted to spend her time volunteering and helping others. When she saw a call for volunteers with Allumine Health of College Station posted to the Nextdoor app, she just knew she had found where she was meant to be.
“A patient needed a volunteer, and I immediately got put with a patient whom I love dearly," she said. "I spend two days each week with him.”
Throughout the height of the pandemic, Hallford was only able to see her patient through a glass window. Now, as he is still living, she makes sure to stretch out her assigned one-hour visits to two hours, as often as she can. Many of this patient’s family live out of town, Hallford explained, and can’t always be with him as much as they'd like to.
“I read to him, we have a conversation, and we just spend time together," she said.
Allumine Health employs medical workers and counselors to treat most of a patient’s needs as they undergo hospice care at home or in nursing home facilities. But, the work that their volunteers do is something they need more of.
“We have two ways you can volunteer," shared Robin Olson, assistant volunteer coordinator with Allumine Health. "There’s the patient side, which involves patient visits. You’re matched with a patient when you sign up and go through orientation... Then there’s the administrative side, where we always need help filing, and doing patient binders.”
Volunteers, who range in age from college students to people in their eighties, are given regular training where they learn about the physical and psychological process of a person passing away. They can then comfort their patient with anything they have to offer – crafts, music, salon care, even handyman repair work. One volunteer was able to bring her dog to a visit, Hallford said.
For people like Hallford, the experience isn’t scary, but rather life-giving and rewarding.
“It does my heart good to be able to spend the time with [my patient]," she said. "... When the time comes, I'll miss him terribly. But I would not miss the time that we had together.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, visit alluminehealth.com for more information. To sign up, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 979-229-5761.