My name is Dorothy. I grew up in South Africa, leaving the country at the age of 19 for my adventure. I ended up in London, England. During this time, I met an Aussie; we married and moved to Australia where we bought a dairy farm. We raised 4 children and eventually moved to Chilliwack where a new lifestyle began. I was able to have a carefree life, while our 3 girls and 1 son were at school.
My children were between the ages of 16 –24 years when my husband of 24 years died very suddenly of Leukemia; this left a big void in my life. I wish I knew about Hospice at the time of his death. Now what do I do? I had heard of Hospice but had no idea what it involved. I did some research and decided this was for me. I knew I was going to be a perfect volunteer. Once the training was over, I started to visit patients in hospital, at first feeling a bit tentative, but I knew this was what I needed to do.
I have been a volunteer for Hospice since 1998. During this time my role as a volunteer has varied a great deal, from heading a Vigil Team to visiting individuals in their homes, hospital and now at Cascade Hospice. My role as a volunteer is to be able to support patients during their stay at Cascade and saying goodbye when they die: it is important for volunteers to “let go” because someone new will be arriving that needs our support. I must be able make the patient feel comfortable when they arrive, and to support the family with that patient. Families need our assurance that their loved one is now in good hands (doctor and nurses) and it is time for them to spend quality time with their loved one.
I love volunteering at Cascade Hospice and always feel after my shift that I have done my best. It is such an honour to be sitting quietly holding a person’s hand as they take their final breath. I hope I can continue volunteering for many more years. Who knows, maybe I will be a patient at Cascade Hospice someday, expecting my volunteer to respect me and to be with me all the way on my next journey.
Hello! My name is Colleen. I volunteer at the Chilliwack Hospice Society as a receptionist and I also volunteer for various events like the Gala, Hoedown, Hike for Hospice and the Tree of Life Celebration at Minter’s store every year.
I became involved with the Hospice Society because my husband passed away from cancer in 2011. After his death at the Hospice residence, I decided to give back in a meaningful way what we had been so blessed to receive and started volunteering for the Society in 2012.
While my husband was ill, I was in the unusual position of being his wife and primary caregiver and everyday became more of a challenge. We could never completely admit to ourselves that my husband was really dying. He wasn’t going to get better and we weren’t going to wake up from this nightmare! Fortunately, we did find some peace while he spent his very last 18 days at the Cascade Hospice Residence in Chilliwack. With the staff and volunteers’ nurturing, loving and compassionate care, their explanations, kind words and support to transition us from living to dying, we realized that my husband was indeed leaving us.
The amazing thing about Hospice care is that it shifts relationships back to their natural ones. I was no longer his nurse but his wife again. Although our two daughters & son were young adults, they were able to be his ‘kids’ again. This was such a relief to all of us but especially for my husband. During one of his very last evenings, our whole family had dinner together & then enjoyed watching the Canucks play from the comfort of his own private room. It almost felt like home!
For my kids and me, being my husband’s caregiver was truly was an act of love. Would I do this all over again? I hope I never have to… although I would but only hand in hand with the Chilliwack Hospice Society. They got us through our darkest days at the end of my husband’s life… and afterwards too as my daughters and I benefited from the Grief Support Step 1 Group. I continued onwards and took the Hospice Volunteer Training. Afterwards, I actually co-facilitated the Volunteer Training for a while & the Caregiver Support training too.
We are so grateful that we let Hospice care into our lives….not only to help us cope with the process of death & dying but also to cope with the process of living!
Hi, my name is Bonnie. I have been married to my husband Ron for 52 great years. We have 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. We lived and raised our family in New Westminster for 35 years. From 1979 to 1984, I owned and operated 3 consignment stores. One in Surrey and two in New Westminster. Those were fun years. From 1985 to 1997, I worked at Labatt Breweries in the HR department. In 1997, we retired and moved to Cultus Lake where we enjoy daily mountain walks and great friends. Back in 2009, I answered an ad looking for volunteers for the hospice thrifty boutique. The rest is history. I have been volunteering since the store opened. The cause is near and dear to my heart. Volunteering has taught me to be patient, non-judgmental and a good listener. The services and care that hospice provides is amazing. I have met so many nice people over the years, both volunteers and shoppers.
Hi, my name is Elaine. I have been volunteering at Hospice since January 2011. I have 4 grown children, 8 grown grandchildren, 3 step grandchildren and 7 amazing great grandchildren. I live with my beautiful diva cat Lucy.
When my Mom, who lived in Waterloo, Ontario, became terminally ill with cancer I was fortunate enough to be able to go there and spend her last 15 days with her. Her last 8 days were at a beautiful hospice setting and I was so impressed. At that time, I knew very little about hospice and what it meant. However, after this experience with my Mom, I knew that when I retired, I would volunteer in a hospice setting and begin to pay it forward.
I started at the Society office in January 2011 and except for a short ‘absence’, have been doing this ever since. Volunteering with such an incredible dedicated staff has been amazing. Everyone is so appreciative of anything we do and seeing their personal dedication to what Hospice does is heartwarming. The programs and support offered to the local community, free of charge, never ceases to amaze me. I look forward to my hours at the office and seeing the wonderful group of people who work there. I am also fortunate in that my shift is on a day when free relaxation therapy sessions are offered to people in grief. Having developed a relationship with the therapists and the people who attend makes my time there so much more rewarding and pleasant. I love the interaction with everyone doing the sessions and those getting the treatments.
I had also taken the Hospice training, and from October 2011 until November 2015 I also volunteered at Cascade Hospice where the patients are. Again, as in my Mom’s case, seeing the gentle loving care shown to the patients and their family touched me every time I was there. Unfortunately, I lost my husband in a tragic accident in November 2015 and I have been unable to go back to the residence.
I do however continue my volunteer hours at the Society office and helping at some of their fundraising events when I am able. I know they always say how much they appreciate their volunteers, but they make it easy to help them. The picture I have attached is at last year’s Volunteer Appreciation ‘hippy’ dinner – so much fun!!!
My name is Mary. I find my work at Cascade Hospice and the Chilliwack hospital both satisfying and rewarding. I started working at the hospice society a few years before Cascade Hospice was opened (in 2008) and I am still here. My career in nursing was about to end; I had been volunteering with Medical Missions International in the developing world while I was still working at Chilliwack General. I enjoyed working with staff and patients in the developing countries; one learns so much about humanity by being with different races, seeing where and how they live. I must say we have so much to be thankful for in this country Canada. I find that if I can assist my clients in any way as they begin a new journey in life , it’s very gratifying, and who knows, I may need help along the way too someday.
My husband is deceased and I have 5 children, 14 grand-children and 12 great grand-children. My children are busy with their lives but I do not have to tell anyone what a joy they are and how much they enrich my life. In my spare time I enjoy reading, walking, biking and working out at the gym. In the spring and fall, my gardens occupy my time.