“We love and miss our volunteers!”
Rotary Hospice is fortunate to have 130 amazingly talented and caring trained volunteers. As we approach Volunteer Appreciation Week, we wish to introduce two of them: Sue Wakelin, current chair of the Hospice Care Avon Maitland board of directors (who oversee the operation of the hospice) and Dennis Young, current chair of the Stratford Perth Hospice Foundation board of directors.
Who or what inspired you to get involved with Rotary Hospice?
Sue: My son's father-in-law selected hospice care in BC, as he was dying from cancer. This was such an unselfish, caring act on his part – a gift to his family. His wife, 3 young adult daughters, and his extended family were having such a difficult time accepting what was happening and 'letting him go', but with hospice, he accessed counselling for his family and they were able to have more family time instead of being caregivers.
When we moved back to Stratford, my Mom was going into late-stage Parkinson's and being cared for at home by my Dad. Joining the Rotary Club of Stratford on my return, I soon heard about the initiative and joined the boards in 2017.
Dennis: My father was a resident in the palliative care unit of Stratford General Hospital in 2008, shortly before it closed permanently. He received excellent compassionate care. The experience made a huge impact on my family. In 2013, when the Rotary Club hosted its first community meeting, I joined the original steering committee and eventually the board of directors. It has been eight years of hard yet very satisfying work. It is so incredibly rewarding to be able to support residents and their loved ones at such an important time of life.
What is your vision for Rotary Hospice?
Sue & Dennis: To make it a comfortable 'home', although difficult with COVID, to all who need it and maintain the excellence in care that really does make every moment matter for both our residents and their loved ones. In looking to the future, the addition of complementary services to offer a holistic approach to end-of-life care.
What are the different ways to get involved with Rotary Hospice, outside of joining the Boards?
Sue: Currently, I am completing palliative care training and hope to offer my time as a direct support volunteer in the coming years. My husband and I also support the hospice by participating in the annual Hike for Hospice event and I’ve enjoyed participating in the Handbags for Hospice event too! As well, we are also monthly donors because we recognize the need for ongoing operational funding – and giving this way works well for us and the organization.
Dennis: A highlight of my time has definitely been as a volunteer in the hospice, working directly with residents and their families. It is very rewarding work for me and is much appreciated by the community. Like Sue, I also always enjoy participating in our annual fundraising event, Hike for Hospice, in fact I’ve been on the organizing committee for the event since 2013. It has definitely become a great way to get together with family, friends, enjoy the outdoors and raise much needed funds for our Hospice! As you can tell, I am quite passionate about the hospice experience within our community. This has led me to not only provide my time as a volunteer but I am a financial supporter as well.
Thank you, Dennis and Sue – and ALL our volunteers - for your tremendous commitment to those who call Rotary Hospice home.