Although I’ve only been updating this blog for a short time, I feel like I’ve shared a lot with any readers I may have. That being said, there are still a lot of things I haven’t even touched upon.
This week’s topic: Volunteering.
Image courtesy of ftjc.org.
I did a bit of volunteer work in college, but it was never something I did regularly. And after graduation, I just really didn’t have the time.
For the longest time I worked crazy hours. Weekends, holidays, odd shifts, tons of extra hours … You name it, I did it. As I got older, it started becoming a real issue for me. I was always exhausted, and I never had time for hobbies or even the important people in my life. Obviously something had to change.
I started working a more regular schedule in January 2011. I’m actually with a different company now, but I still work “normal” hours. I never work weekends and I don’t work “weird” hours (no more swing shifts or overnights). I occasionally need to put in some extra time, but I don’t mind this … An hour or two extra a week is so much more manageable than ten or more extra hours. (Yes, I used to do that on a regular basis.)
After working “normal” hours for a few months, I started getting restless. I was so used to always being busy that I honestly didn’t even know what to do with all of my free time! I wanted to do something rewarding with this extra time, so I started looking into volunteer opportunities in the area.
I came across a listing on a volunteer website for a hospice and decided to contact the volunteer coordinator for more information. After speaking with her on the phone, I felt really good about the opportunity. She was incredibly sweet and genuine, and I loved the idea that I could make someone’s last few days, weeks, or months better in some way.
I’ve now been volunteering with this hospice for a little over 2 years. I visit with a patient (or patients, depending on need) once a week. Depending on the patient, I may spend time chatting, drawing, solving puzzles, reading, going for walks … Since each patient is different, I try to tailor my visits to their interests and needs. It’s very rewarding work, but it can also be incredibly challenging and emotionally draining at times.
Since it is hospice, I try to prepare myself emotionally for the fact that the patient I’m working with will pass away in the near future. It’s never easy, though. I’ve definitely found myself growing close with some of the patients … I think I enjoy the visits as much as they do!
Being a hospice volunteer definitely isn’t for everyone, but I love it. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything.