Volunteers Tackle COVID-19 during National Volunteer Week

by Melissa Basgall, Volunteer Manager at Kansas City Hospice

April 19th-25th is National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is fortunate to have a passionate, dedicated team of volunteers. COVID-19 is a challenge that they have met head on.

Our volunteers share their time and talents every day to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. In March of this year, all of the incredible, traditional ways volunteers serve our organization had to be paused. To protect our patients, families, staff, and volunteers, Kansas City Hospice decided to temporarily discontinue all face-to-face volunteer services on March 13th.

As a hospice volunteer manager, it was the strangest day of my career. I spend much of my time advocating for volunteer services, explaining the many benefits. Our volunteers provide companionship and respite for exhausted caregivers. They provide presence and human touch in the final hours for those who would otherwise be alone. They provide massage, haircuts, pet therapy, music therapy, housekeeping and so many other services that are essential to a good quality of life. And all of a sudden, those meaningful services had to be discontinued. 

Luckily, the Kansas City Hospice Volunteer Department is led by a creative and experienced group of volunteer coordinators, backed by an energetic team of hospice and grief support volunteers, all ready to plan and execute new ways to serve.

Within a few short days of discontinuing face-to-face volunteering, the volunteer department built an entirely new menu of volunteer services, and had an eager team of volunteers signed up and ready to jump into their new roles.

COVID-19 is no match for volunteers

Our volunteers tackle COVID-19 like any other challenge. A dedicated group of empathetic listeners is offering weekly phone companionship for patients and caregivers alike, providing an extra layer of support during a time when so many feel isolated. Another group of volunteers has become pen pals, sending thoughtful cards and notes of support, along with pre-stamped return envelopes, so clients can write back if they like. 

Solace House adult facilitators have displayed their compassion and commitment to participants by maintaining their support through alternative platforms. They are willingly adjusting dates and times and mastering new technology. Although youth have not been meeting during the stay at home, their facilitators have been sending notes of encouragement and humor to maintain contact and lift their spirits. 

An amazing team of road warrior volunteers has made contactless deliveries of care bags to families across the metro. Care bags contain personal care items, household goods, adult coloring pages and colored pencils and more. A few extraordinary volunteers spent hours calling families to offer the bags, and many more hours putting the bags together.

Two enthusiastic volunteers coordinated the procurement and delivery of over 40 gallons of hand sanitizer from several local area distilleries. 

Many are volunteering remotely from home, keeping up with the all-important administrative work that still needs attention during this time. They’re writing bereavement cards, working on medical records, keeping up spreadsheets, corresponding with community volunteers, logging volunteer hours, and so much more.

Volunteers do good and feel good

People volunteer for a variety of reasons. For the opportunity to give back to an organization that provided a meaningful experience, to develop new skills or build on an existing foundation, for socialization and connection, to be part of a community of other caring individuals, for their health, to fulfill a social or spiritual commitment.

Kansas City Hospice volunteers have one reason in common though, and that’s their passion for serving our patients and families, however they can. This year, our volunteers are stepping out of the box and out of their comfort zones, and stepping into new roles we never could have imagined. And they’re doing it with the same spirited dedication they always have. 

Thank you, volunteers, for your time, your flexibility, your passion, and for all the important work you do to support Kansas City Hospice, today and every day. Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!

2019 Volunteer Achievements

Approximately 475 formally onboarded volunteers worked to bring a large breadth of services to patients and families.

  • Served hundreds of home care patients and families
  • Provided administrative support in 6 buildings
  • Staffed 2 weekend grief camps
  • Supported both Kansas City Hospice House and NorthCare Hospice House
  • Facilitated groups at Solace House
  • Supported multiple roles in managing Top Drawer Resale Boutique
  • Served on the Board of Directors
  • Granted patient wishes
  • Provided special services to veterans
  • Cared for family pets in times of need

Additionally, hundreds of community volunteers gave thousands of hours to make or do things to benefit patients and families.

  • Served meals and provided baked goods and other snacks at the hospice houses
  • Made craft projects
  • Helped with cleaning and landscape maintenance
  • Played music or sang in common areas
  • Dozens of area quilters provided hundreds of lap quilts for patients and families
  • Many charitable groups, civic groups, businesses, and church groups provided needed donations and partnered with us on service projects

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