So Much More than an Award Winner: Barb McCoy is a Volunteer Dynamo

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By:  Jeannie Wilcox, KCH Sr. Communications Manager
Published:  January 19, 2024

The first time I met Barb McCoy I was excited to talk to her about quilting. My mom was a quilter and I know how the quilt ladies like to talk about fabric and patterns and hot quilting trends. I was ready to talk “double-wedding ring” and “can you believe the rising cost of batting, me neither…blah blah.”

And then I got an earful. Barb is NOT an avid quilter. In fact, she doesn’t quilt at all. Instead, coolest of all things, she’s co-coordinator of the quilt program at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care. And she had a LOT to say about that.

Fast forward a few months to a discussion among volunteer leaders at Kansas City Hospice about who to nominate for the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service. It’s the association’s most prestigious volunteer tribute and recognizes outstanding individuals 50 and older who are sharing their experience, talents, and skills to enrich the lives of others. There’s one award per state.

Craig Eichelman, AARP State Director, presenting KCH Volunteer Barb McCoy with the the Missouri AARP Andrus Award.

“Barb was the first person who came to mind to nominate for the award,” said Bonnie Krause, NorthCare Hospice House Volunteer Coordinator. “She has devoted herself to serving as a full-time volunteer for Kansas City Hospice. It’s been a journey for her: she started as a volunteer in 2013 helping with administrative work and eventually found her skills were better utilized connecting with people.”

And connect Barb does.

In addition to working hard on the quilt program, Barb visits many home and long-term care hospice patients throughout the year. She provides much-needed respite for families who might need to go grocery shopping, to step out for their own appointment or just to get some fresh air. Barb says, “The first thing I do is look at what they have on their walls…that’s how I know how to connect with them. If it’s pictures of their kids, I ask about their kids. If it’s pictures of a trip, I’ll ask about that trip. I really like to get to know the families.”

Bonnie says, “Barb provides companionship visits for patients who are homebound or lonely. She has an incredible heart for hospice and that comes across so clearly in her day-to-day volunteering. Many families request her by name. We frequently get phone calls sharing how amazing she is, and how comfortable she makes them feel.”

On top of that, Barb provides vigil for Kansas City Hospice’s Compassionate Presence program. If she’s available, she’ll sit with a hospice patient who is dying to ensure they don’t die alone.

Now let’s talk about the quilts. As coordinator of the quilt program, Barb tracks quilt inventory, picks up quilts, makes regular calls and visits to local quilting groups and delivers fabric to them. Every patient at NorthCare Hospice House receives a quilt, including veterans who are presented with special patriotic quilts. Barb was responsible for the distribution of 625 quilts in 2022 and more than 850 quilts in 2023. She also shares the heartfelt feedback from families after they receive a quilt.

From left to right: Barb McCoy; Bonnie Krause, Volunteer Coordinator; Jeannie Carlson, Volunteer Coordinator; Lane Foster, Volunteer Coordinator; Melissa Basgall, Manager of Volunteer Services; Ashley Gardner, Volunteer Coordinator

While presenting Barb with the prestigious Andrus Award on January 5, 2024 at NorthCare Hospice House, AARP State Director Craig Eichelman said she embodied the principles of the founder of his organization, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. Dr. Andrus believed in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and that’s just what they recognized in Barb, and why they chose her as the award winner. He noted that the presentation of the award comes with a $1,500 donation to Kansas City Hospice. He also encouraged Barb – and others – to keep volunteering, saying it’s the lifeblood of many organizations, including AARP – and Kansas City Hospice.

In 2024 – and beyond – we should all take a little inspiration from Barb: connect with people. Bring them respite and a soft place to land. And support the organizations you’re passionate about with all your heart.

Congratulations, Barb McCoy, the Missouri AARP Andrus Award Winner for Community Service!


  1. Kimi Yokoyama, Chaplain on January 20, 2024 at 8:15 am

    Congratulations to Barb!

    What you do is such a blessing to our patients and their families!

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