Hospice & Palliative Care Resources

Building the Center’s Volunteer Corps—and Caring Relationships with our Patients

November 1, 2018

Since starting her role as the Center for Hope’s volunteer coordinator in April of this year, Stacy Kaplan has doubled the number of volunteers, with twelve new members joining in August alone. With at least a dozen more set to be trained before the end of the year, we can just sit back and say, “Wow!”  

Thanks to Stacy’s outreach efforts, the Center has welcomed more local organizations and individuals into our volunteer program at our Peggy’s House and Father Hudson House residences, as well as in the community.  They are spending time with our residents, lifting spirits, bringing smiles, and comforting families. Their contributions are priceless, and so are the results.

Stacy has dedicated her efforts to building our volunteer ranks and increasing volunteer involvement to complement the already high quality of care our patients and their families receive on a daily basis.  “I wanted to bring more activity to our residences to help make the environment friendlier and more social. I knew we would need more people from the wider community to help make that happen,” she said. “This terrific increase in our volunteer community has allowed us to reach more patients and provide more frequent visits and activities.” She added that many younger people are now getting involved, on their own or in groups. 

New volunteers have made a significant contribution to our residences, helping to organize and run events and games every week.  Residents enjoy increased socialization with each other and with our volunteers at weekly Bingo games and special events, like our Summer Picnic Lunch or our Fall Festival, during which volunteers helped serve lunch, played games and made art projects with the patients. 

The Center’s volunteer program is very flexible in terms of the types of activities available and who can participate. As we shared in our September blog post, there are individuals who come serve ice cream once a week, play music or sit quietly with residents. 

“We want visits to be just as pleasant for the volunteers themselves as they are for our patients,” said Stacy. “Some people like to sit and talk, others enjoy group activities while others like to help in the office. Some of the volunteers have started to team up on their own to do activities or visit with patients together, which is so great; everyone wins.” 

Thanks to Stacy’s efforts, organizations in the area have become more involved, including St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Scotch Plains, St. Helen’s Church in Westfield and Unity Bank. She is also in contact with local colleges, nursing schools and high schools to discuss volunteer opportunities. 

The value of our volunteer community to patients and their families cannot be understated—but our volunteers will tell you that they are also getting tremendous personal benefit out of the program. For example, Richard Del Nero, who plays Bingo with patients at Father Hudson House and provides companionship at Peggy’s House, says, “The people here are still engaged in their lives and I am blessed to be able to spend time with them.”

Doreen DiGiacamo, whose father-in-law had received services from the Center for Hope, said that her favorite part of volunteering at the Center is “the joy that comes from connecting with the individuals here, whether in a funny conversation or sitting in silence. It’s knowing that it makes a difference to just be there.”

“Our volunteers are so inspiring,” said Stacy. “We have a great team of people who are enjoying their time with our residents as much as the residents are enjoying their company. The increased activity has been enthusiastically welcomed by our patients and their loved ones.”​

To find out about volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups, contact Stacy Kaplan at [email protected], (908) 288-9111, or fill out the form below.

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