It’s mid-morning and Rosie Wanat is sitting with Norma Perry Wood, reading poetry and singing ‘Amazing Grace.’ It may not seem like much, but Wood, a 90-year-old resident at Southwood Nursing and Retirement Home, loves seeing Wanat, a volunteer through Liberty Home Care and Hospice Services, walk through her door.
“Yes, it’s nice,” said Wood about Wanat’s weekly visits.
While together, the two spend time talking about a variety of things, ranging from family to church to cooking. “I used to cook all the time,” Wood recalled as Wanat tells her about a special cake she likes to make.
“She [Wood] has Alzheimer’s,” said Wanat after their visit. “But she remembers things about her church and she can remember a couple of the songs she used to sing in church. She’s just amazing.”
“She also always remembers me. She may not know my name, but she remembers me,” Wanat added.
It’s clear that Wanat values her friendship with Wood as much as Wood does, and it’s her compassion that makes her such a wonderful volunteer.
“She is such a veteran,” said Liberty Hospice volunteer coordinator Marie Daniels about Wanat, “and she is just so helpful. If I have a new resident that needs a volunteer, I can call up Rosie and she usually already knows them; she’s already seen them.”
“I just love people and I feel like I’m helping people by doing this,” noted Wanat. “I love getting them to smile, You know, when you speak to them and they just light up. It’s a blessing and means more to me than I can really express.”
Wanat is assigned to two residents that she visits regularly, and every Thursday she also paints nails for the ladies staying at Southwood.
“There’s nothing that brings me any more joy,” said Wanat of the time she spends with Southwood’s residents. “The biggest paycheck I’ve ever earned doesn’t compare to what I recieve from doing this.”
Like Wanat, Marie Faircloth is another one of Liberty Hospice’s generous volunteers. “She is wide open, always busy,” said Daniels of Faircloth. “But I find that busy people make good volunteers.”
Faircloth, who visits five patients every week, enjoys spending time with Edna Williamson, an 86-year-old resident at Mary Gran Nursing Center who is legally blind.
Among their favorite things to do is talk about family, read from the Bible, and sing.
“I’ve found that the best tool in my toolbox is music,” noted Faircloth. “I’ve never seen anyone who didn’t enjoy some music, so I never want to lose that tool.”
“They [the residents] just motivate me. When I leave from visiting with them, I feel rejuvinated. A person just doesn’t know what a ministry and a reward it is,” said Faircloth, who is also the director of the Garland Senior Center. “You get to where you don’t want to miss your visits; you look forward to them. There’s just something about it.”
The role that volunteers like Wanat and Faircloth play in the local nursing and retirement facilities is very important, stressed Daniels. “They [the residents] will open up to volunteers more quickly than they will to us as staff.”
“They connect with you. You become their friend,” Faircloth added.
Liberty Hospice currently has 15 volunteers but are in need of more, according to Daniels. “There’s always a need for more volunteers, especially since we can admit three to four patients a week. Right now, I have two patients who are waiting for volunteers.”
Volunteers can do a variety of work, said Daniels, explaining that there are direct and indirect types of volunteers. “The direct volunteers visit patients in the home or in the facilities. These volunteers are assigned a patient and we ask that they visit once a week and provide companionship. Indirect volunteers help make phone calls and do clerical work at our office.”
If someone is considering being a volunteer, both Wanat and Faircloth say wait no more. “Don’t think, just go for it,” urged Faircloth.
“Do it,” added Wanat, “because it’s something that is so rewarding that you can’t even explain it.”
If you are interested in being a volunteer with Liberty Hospice, please contact Marie Daniels at 910-592-8367 for more information.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.