The Volunteer Experience-Payback
I have been talking to some of our volunteers about their experiences. I asked, “What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at Unity?” Her response was, “Go for it! You will always feel good about what you contribute to help Unity!”
She shared this story: “I work at the greeter desk in the Administration Building. My main job is to welcome visitors and direct them to the right person who can help them. I also sign for mail deliveries and complete jobs as assigned.” These jobs can include making what we call “Tuck In” phone calls to patients. We ask them what supplies we can bring them, so our care teams can be prepared the next time they visit that patient.
Greeter desk volunteers also assemble binders and packets from several different departments. For their safety, volunteers have been prohibited from being on campus during the pandemic. Staff members have been completing these jobs in their absence. We have always valued our volunteers, but this just cemented what we have known for a long time: volunteers make our world go ‘round.
The volunteer continued, “I have done computer entries, cut ribbon for the Filled With Love teddy bears, counted out items for goodie bags for various events, prepared tags for the Christmas Remembering service, and more. The variety makes it fun!”
She said that helping out in these ways make her feel fulfilled, but she recalls a particular experience that really made her feel like she’s making a difference. “I recall an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. He came in with a donation and asked if there was someone he could talk to. I found someone to help him. I will never forget his smile as he left, thanking me for helping him.”
“I have done computer entries…cut ribbon for the Filled With Love teddy bears…the variety makes it fun!”
I can’t say with certainty, but I suspect that this experience would be taken for granted by someone being paid to do this job. What volunteers bring to the table is so valuable. Not just the services they provide, but the outlook and perspective they share as well. It is so rewarding to see these experiences through a volunteer’s eyes. These are people who see a need in the community and give of themselves and their time to meet it. These are people who have been touched by loss and grief in some way, and they want to give back to support the people and organization that were there for them in their time of need.
“About six years ago, I lost my very best friend. After spending a week in the hospital with no hope for his getting better, he was transferred to Unity in De Pere,” the volunteer shared. “He died three days later. That was my first experience with Unity –one I have come to appreciate as through the years two more of my friends spent their last days there. I volunteer as a way of offering a little payback for the care of my friends.”
“Payback.” This is a word I have heard volunteers say time and time again. To repay. To repay in the spirit of gratitude in these cases. This giving back. This repayment. It is not required. It is not expected. Yet it is given freely by our volunteers over and over and over again. If there is some wisdom I could impart through writing this, it’s that volunteers are special people. No matter the way they give back, they feel called to do so. They have a gift, a skill, a special store of knowledge, and they chose to share these gifts in such a meaningful manner. To contribute to an organization that provides such a gift to patients and families on their toughest journey, takes a truly special person.
So, to all our volunteers, please know how valued you are. We see you. We see you doing what you think are “little things.” We see you doing difficult things. We see you doing things in remembrance of loved ones, and through you, their legacies live on. We see you. Thank you for seeing your way to us.
This blog post was shared by Leah S., Volunteer Coordinator at Unity Hospice.
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