By Randy Snyder

The most inspiring aspect for me personally, aside from my joy of writing, has been investigating all the inspiring stories relative to the ‘Paying it Forward’ theme I have been using as my feature. My contacts and reference persons for this article were Heidi Owens from the marketing department of Hospice in Rutherford County and Jeanette Moran who works in the Lake Lure office of Hospice, and has been volunteering for 13 years for the local office.

The county Hospice organization has several noteworthy distinctions. It is consistently among the top ten organizations most utilized in the state, and provides care for over 50% of those nearing the end of life in the county. Last, but not least, it is one of the top three providers of crisis care within the state Hospice network.

The county team had over 100 volunteers in 2014 providing an amazing 25,240 hours, driving 85,050 to care for the 789 patients providing the support necessary to fulfill the mission of Hospice. The volunteer staff bringing “life to its fullest” has traditional volunteers in addition to massage therapists, musicians, beauticians, pet therapists, and many others. Also, both resale shops are staffed by volunteers performing duties needed to operate the facilities.

I took some time and surfed the Hospice website, hospiceofrutherford.org, and the information was comprehensive and interesting. Here is a recap of information found on the website: The Hospice House is referred to as “a home away from home.” The house located in Forest City is configured to administer the utmost in palliative care for the elderly, children and even pets dealing with the pain of extensive surgery, illness or terminally ill patients and their families. I am amazed at the serenity and contemporary appointments of the building and charming campus-like property.

The Hospice House of Rutherford was established in 2004 and is staffed 24 hours a day. Three meals a day are prepared and served to in-house patients and/or families. It is, indeed, a place to unwind during difficult and stressful times.

Camp Erin is an overnight camp for children from 6 to 17 who have experienced the death of someone close, and is a state facility available to those children free of charge.

The Rainbows is a four week support group for children 5 to 13 who have lost a significant person in their lives. The counseling is provided in school on a quarterly basis.

Hope, appropriately named is an adult grief session for adults who have lost a loved one with sessions offered at the Hospice House or the Presbyterian Church in McDowell.

Hospice Care can be administered in home as required for terminally ill patients and can be for an extended time. Care is available to anyone statewide in Hospice facilities no matter where they live in North Carolina. Additionally care can be practiced in hospitals for patients needing the same.

Community Services include an array of resources for those in need. The services include advance care planning, planning for future needs, workshops, a help line, a speaker’s bureau and a support framework for caregivers!

In closing, as you can only imagine, volunteers are perpetually needed, and without volunteers, Hospice could not thrive and fulfill its vast mission. Depending on the niche being fulfilled, specific training is available. Times for volunteers to serve are based on their availability and are flexible. Volunteers can include special friends that my occasionally visit a patient or run an errand along with all the diverse needs that Hospice has.

Please visit their website. Simply click on the volunteer section in the heading and the information is there.

Finally, I would like to include Heidi Owen’s quote “As we have said for over 33 years, the volunteer is “the heart of Hospice,” and the organization is constantly in need of more to expand the mission of caring for as many people as possible as soon as they need assistance!”