Paying it forward: Caregiver finds work fulfilling

For nearly 20 years, Lynn Pierce has volunteered for Home Health and Hospice, dedicating her time to those who are terminally ill.

Question: When did you become a hospice volunteer?

Answer: About 17 years ago.

Q: What made you decide to become a hospice volunteer?

A: It was really through my father dying of cancer. I attended the Love Lights program. The good Lord spoke to me. I consider it a gift of God. I have to answer him. I get so much out of this: Dying is the biggest part of living. I get the opportunity to spend very quality time with people who are dying. I get to be close to God. It’s very fulfilling on my end.

Q: Was this an easy or difficult decision?

A: It was very easy. Even when you go into a home, I never felt like I wasn’t welcomed. It’s just a part of me. It is what is, it’s who I am and it feels right. It feels good. There’s fulfillment in the fact that (the patients and family) need us. They appreciate it so much…We just do whatever they need. Some caregivers will just take a nap. I had one patient with congestive heart failure. I visited for over a year and just read the Bible; it was comforting. It’s just about whatever the patient needs.

Q: How do you manage working full-time with volunteering? Is it difficult?

A: Not really. In the program, they understand what our schedules are. They work around that and it’s very helpful for everyone. Taylor (Daugherty, hospice volunteer coordinator) is right on top of all that stuff. She does match us (with patients). She knows what our strong points are. A lot of times people need someone in the daytime and (Taylor) utilizes them. If there’s something in the evening or weekends, I’m your girl.

Q: Do you find inspiration in your work, or the people you work with?

A: Yeah, you see the people that have reconciled this is the end for them and they are so at peace. The program is so good on the medical side; we make the patient comfortable so they’re not in pain, comfortable but so they have quality of life. I see how brave these people are and the family is letting go. It’s sad but joyful that the family member is no longer suffering. You get close to these people and become almost a part of their family. You become a part of their process and a part of their life. It’s a very positive thing in my life. My parents instilled in me that it’s important to give back, to step outside yourself and help others.

Q: Do you find anything challenging about working with hospice?

A: Not really. Maybe sometimes when you first walk in the door. You’re not real sure of the dynamics. Taylor tries to give you the dynamics of their life and family. But the family is so grateful that you’re there. The family makes it easy. Once you start talking and find out what they need from you, the communication starts and it makes it easier. Once you’re there, it’s good; you think, ‘This is where I need to be, this is what I need to be doing,’ and those apprehensions disappear.

Q: What makes it rewarding?

A: It makes me happy to be able to be needed. They need someone at this time in the journey of their lives and I fulfill that need.

Amanda Nicholson conducted this interview.