Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as can be under the current circumstances.  I wanted to share with you that I am a volunteer for Big Bend Hospice. I have been told by the staff that many volunteers understandably had to pull back from serving. It’s hard to know what is safe, what is risky, and where to find balance. But I am here to share with you why volunteering during this time, if done safely, can have a bigger impact now more than ever.

I do know BBH and our patients and families still need our help and our compassionate care.   So, I thought I’d write this note to encourage you to consider engaging with BBH if you have no serious preexisting medical conditions. I continue to volunteer and do so as safely as possible.  BBH has our back on that – providing protective equipment, requiring temperature checks before each shift (for volunteers and families), and asking us to keep a safe distance from patients and family members.  I wash my hands before, during, and after each shift and keep wipes and sanitizer close by.  They train and review infection control procedures frequently, always keeping us up to date on the newest developments and protocols.

I currently serve two Gadsden County families.  For one I provide a respite visit every two weeks so the patient’s son and his wife can run errands or spend time away from the house, which they could never do together if it were not for a BBH Volunteer.  Their loved one is bedbound and sleeps often so I keep my distance but check on her often and engage with her from six feet away; if she is up for chatting.  I feel the risks are very minimal for this assignment.

For the other family I go grocery shopping for them.  Not too much of a risk there as I shop for myself weekly anyway.  The patient is 77 and the caregiver 84 so they try to stay home and are so grateful to me for running errands for them!

If you are looking to give back to the community through volunteering, I definitely recommend Big Bend Hospice.  They serve all 8 counties of the Big Bend area and have continued to provide safe care during the pandemic.  I just wanted to share my awesome experiences with you and try to diminish any fears you may have about volunteering for BBH at this time.  And if it’s best for you to still hold off on re-engaging, BBH totally understands that and supports your decision, and will be here when you’re ready. Or maybe take this time to think about other, non-traditional ways you can serve.

I wish you each a healthy and safe holiday season.  I hope to see you soon!

Warm regards, Stephanie Kilham