Hospice Volunteer Finds Fulfillment

 Retirement left Joe Aiello, a Fond du Lac resident, looking for something meaningful to do with his time.

            “I met someone who said he was doing volunteer work at Hospice Hope,” Aiello recalls. “It sounded interesting so I attended a hospice volunteer meeting and thought it was something I wanted to try.”

            And Joe hasn’t looked back since starting October 2015.

In his role, Joe serves meals at the Hospice Home of Hope, providing companionship to hospice patients and their families, as well as offering Blue Star ‘pinnings,’ which is Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope’s way to recognize and honor military veterans.

            A hospice military veteran volunteer presents the patient with a blue star pin and patriotic lap quilt made by Hospice Hope Forget Me Not volunteers, in tribute to their years of service. 

            “The Blue Star pinnings are very rewarding,” Joe shares. “When I hear the veteran’s stories from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, they always treat it like it is ‘no big deal.’ They just say they had a job to do and they did it. No questions asked. When you think these men (and women) were so young, some as young as 17, it makes it even more remarkable.

“Some of the veterans believe they don’t deserve any recognition,” Joe adds. “I do my best to convince them they did their part and should be recognized. I salute them! Family members are very appreciative and I especially enjoy when grandchildren are present. Some see their grandfather in a different light. It is an honor to share this moment with the family.”

The blue star lapel pin is worn to honor a family member who is now serving or previously have served in the military.

“We pin this on our hospice veterans to honor their service,” Joe explains. “It will be part of their legacy to pass on to their children and grandchildren.”

In just this short time, Joe has already gained many memories that will not be forgotten any time soon.

“I remember playing Racko (a card game) with a hospice patient, and I became very fond of him and three of his friends. We told stories, joked, reminisced and laughed. We use to say ‘what happens in the Racko room stays in the Racko room.’ I looked forward to those times. Another memory was at a ‘pinning’ with a Marine who was at Iwo Jima and witnessed the iconic flag-raising. What an honor for me.”

And, Joe would easily recommend being a hospice volunteer to anyone.

“The whole hospice experience is very rewarding,” according to Joe. “Everyone I meet is so appreciative. When I serve meals at the Hospice Home of Hope, I am astonished to see the positive attitude and courage that patients exhibit in their final days. When I sit with patients for companionship, I build a relationship, acquire a new friend and learn so much from their life experiences. This part can be sad since when they pass you lose a good friend.”

Hospice Hope offices in Fond du Lac and Green Lake office are currently looking for more volunteers to assist patients and their families. Volunteers are placed in their own geographic areas.

Volunteers play a crucial role in our services by supporting our patients and families in direct patient care, respite care, bereavement care, pet therapy, administrative work, medication delivery and more. Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope provides an extensive training program designed to equip volunteers for the varied types of service.

The next training session is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, October 10 at Ripon Medical Center, 845 Parkside Street in Ripon. Application deadline is Friday, September 30. Application and interview must be completed prior to the class.

For more information, call Betty Walleser, Hospice Hope Green Lake volunteer coordinator, at (920) 294-6220 ([email protected]).

Hospice offers a supportive, palliative (comfort versus cure) and compassionate care program to patients who have a life-threatening illness, and do not want, or cannot proceed with, aggressive curative treatment.  Hospice Hope care offers a team of caring people trained to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of patients who have a limited life expectancy, as well as the needs of their families and caregivers. There are as many volunteer opportunities as there are individual preferences for service!

If you have the desire to help others, the willingness to share your time and talents, want to grow personally, and give something back to your community, consider becoming and Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope volunteer.

For information on hospice volunteer needs in Fond du Lac, as well as other future training dates, contact Jennifer Stephens, Hospice Hope Fond du Lac volunteer coordinator, at (920) 924-4662 ([email protected]).