By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
GARDENDALE — Volunteerism is the heartbeat of many organizations, and it touches the lives of everyone involved.
Ruth Bobo and Sue Robertson volunteer for Life Care Hospice in Gardendale, and both say it enhances their lives in addition to helping others.
“It helped me with my self-esteem,” said Robertson, of Fultondale, who started volunteering with Life Care almost three years ago.
She had been retired for 15 years and had too much time on her hands, and said volunteering changed her life.
“I was nervous the first time but I had the training. I was afraid I would do something wrong,” she said. “But after the first time, I couldn’t wait to go again. I just fell in love with the patients. We love them and they love us back.”
National Volunteer Week is April 21-27. Sandy Mann, volunteer coordinator for Life Care Hospice, said the people who give of their time are invaluable to the agency.
“They make a difference in people’s lives,” Mann said. “It’s a way people can make a difference close to home.”
Mann said that volunteering is also a “great gap-filler for a resume for people who are unemployed. And somebody benefits from it.”
Another volunteer at Life Care is Ruth Bobo of Sardis. She has donated her time to the organization for almost a year, and says she’s hooked.
“It gets me out of the house and gives me something to do,” she said. “I love helping people.”
Bobo and Robertson both do office work at Life Care as well as sit with patients. While volunteers typically work only two or three hours at a time, Bobo recently sat with a patient for 12 hours. But she said that was on her own time, and not Life Care’s, because she had grown close to the patient.
Volunteers can do various types of work at the organization.
“We can use any talent people have,” said Mann, including administration, accounting, arts and crafts, legal assistance, pastoral services, hair styling, cooking and much more.
One of the most important functions of volunteers, Mann said, is to sit with patients for a few hours in order to give their caregivers a break.
She said a misconception is that working with hospice patients is depressing.
But as a volunteer with Life Care for a year before becoming the volunteer coordinator, Mann said spending time with patients is “an anti-depressant for me. It brings me up.”
To learn more about volunteering with Life Care, call 631-6607 or visit www.lifecarehospice.com.