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2016 Volunteer Award Winners

2016 Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Award Honorees

Patient and Family Service
Ingrid Watt
Suncoast Hospice | Empath Health
Clearwater, FL

Ingrid began her volunteer journey with Suncoast Hospice in April 1993. Over the years she has provided over 2,900 hours of service in caregiver relief, transportation, Transitions Companion visits (vigil volunteering), and bereavement support for patients and their families. In 2007 Ingrid decided to take Reiki training and soon discovered how much she could offer patients by utilizing this method of comfort care. Reiki opened a new world for Ingrid. She studied, practiced and eventually became a Reiki Master. Ingrid helps with Transition Companion visits as often as she can and typically utilizes Reiki while she is sitting vigil. She has been able to calm the most anxious patients, bringing them to a more peaceful state within minutes of her presence. Ingrid serves as a mentor for new volunteers, including those newly trained in Reiki.

There are countless stories of the times and ways she has supported people until the very end of their life, oftentimes rearranging her schedule to be present with them at their time of need. One special way she has served patients and families is by using her native language of German to communicate. One patient did not have any local family so Ingrid phoned Germany, at her own expense, and spoke with the family many times to keep them updated on their loved one’s status. This gift of shared language is one that cannot be measured; it provides great comfort for those Ingrid interacts with. She has also represented Suncoast Hospice at volunteer training classes and at outreach events, sharing her story and inspiring others to get involved. Ingrid has a wonderful sense of humor which she beautifully intertwines into her stories.  Through her many  roles as a hospice volunteer, she has blossomed, growing as a person through each new assignment by knowing that she can do “it” and that she can trust in herself.

Organizational Support

Clyde Day
Peterson Hospice
Kerrville, TX

Clyde Day and his wife, Rachel, recognized the need for a hospice in Kerrville, TX back in 1984. A church member was dying and needed help. The Day’s and 10 others joined together to donate their time and raise money to form Heart of the Hills Hospice.  Clyde was eventually placed on the Hospice board and was instrumental in opening the Hospice Thrift Store to raise funds to support hospice services in the community. In 2000, Clyde was able to negotiate an agreement with Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital to purchase Heart of the Hills Hospice. Peterson Hospice was born and became a non-profit organization. For the past 32 years, Clyde has humbly and selflessly done everything such as delivering flowers, visiting patients, sweeping floors in the Thrift Store, building shelves and racks to hold items to be sold there, as well as serving on the Board.  He always approaches every task with a warm tender spirit and a servant’s heart. When asked what keeps him going, Clyde said “It is my love of helping others, especially in times of death.  Death is a point that happens in life.  If I can help ease the pain that comes with it, I am happy to help.” We at Peterson Hospice believe he is the epitome of what being a volunteer means due to his dedication, commitment, and spirit of giving.

At the age of 96 years old, Clyde still comes into the Thrift Store to volunteer 6 days a week.  He is loved and respected by all who come in contact with him and he has his own very wise philosophy that he will gladly share with anyone: “A man who stays busy with his hands and mind will live longer than those who stand still.” With over 11,000 lifetime volunteer hours, Clyde continues to motivate new volunteers and others in our community. Prior to his distinguished volunteer career, Clyde was a Chemical Engineer and had a prestigious career with companies such as Olan Engineering and Brown and Root. We are also proud of Clyde for serving in WW II as a Naval Officer on the USS Boston from June, 1942 to February of 1946 in the Pacific Theater. Clyde’s family of four children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren are also proud of his accomplishments, as was his late wife Rachel.

Specialized Volunteer Service

Colonel Patsy Thompson
Sutter Care at Home
Roseville, CA

Colonel Patsy Thompson is in her 20th year of volunteering for Sutter Care at Home Hospice in Roseville California. She travels through life’s voyage with a tremendous amount of passion. From her volunteer beginnings of visiting patients with her spouse and their dog Pretzel, to her current role of taking the lead in our We Honor our Veterans ceremony program, she does so with great gusto.

Recently Pat was recognized for her work with hospice veterans. She presents each veteran with a certificate, a lapel pin and a flag while thanking them for their service to our country. Her hospice activities are squeezed in between Tai Chi class, travel, lecturing, writing memoirs. She and her spouse are stars of a documentary film (in production), about their out of the ordinary lives. She is a tireless bundle of energy who gives straight from her heart.

Specialized Volunteer Service

Karen Jackson
Suncoast Hospice | Empath Health
Clearwater, FL

Since its inception in 2004, Karen Jackson has shown incredible commitment to the Suncoast Hospice’s perinatal loss doula program.  This program provides support to parents of babies who will not survive the birth or who will pass away soon afterwards.  Karen was recruited as one of the first doulas of the program and was a ‘natural’ given her longstanding history and reputation as a birthing doula. From the beginning, Karen attended all meetings and often volunteered to assist in many ways beyond sitting bedside with a birthing mother. Throughout the years she has often served as the ‘voice’ of the program, playing an instrumental role in public speaking events, attending advisory board meetings, speaking to medical staff in hospitals, and presenting the program at local and national events and conferences. Five years ago, the program’s primary doula and co-creator died, leaving a void in program leadership.  Karen, quickly, and nimbly stepped in providing the consistent presence and continuity the program needed.  Karen had to learn and take on many of the administrative and operational aspects of the program, and she did that willingly. Karen is well respected within the local hospital systems, so she could assure the labor and delivery staff that the doula program was still viable and able to serve those in need. Karen’s leadership, mentoring and support of fellow doula volunteers has enabled this program to flourish and be a resource to families in their time of need.

It is truly difficult to quantify how many hours Karen volunteers for the perinatal loss doula program.  While our records show over 1,630 hours of service, we know that often our doulas may under-report how many hours they actually sit at the bedside with a laboring woman.  It is not unusual for the doula to literally spend hours at the bedside for each birth. If the pregnant woman is referred to the program before labor begins, Karen contacts her and arranges a time to come to the home to review the birthing plan and anything else that is important to the pregnant woman and her family.  Karen also provides bereavement follow-up support after the birth. This includes completing hand/feet molds, retaining a lock of hair, and taking pictures, if the family desires. Karen’s compassion and encouragement, no matter what the condition of the baby, allows parents to bond with their baby and create loving positive memories in what is a very difficult and traumatic situation.  Karen also presents information about Empath Health’s community counseling program, referring the family for follow up bereavement support.  She is always available at a moment’s notice to meet the needs of families.

Young Leader

Ryan Regan
Suncoast Hospice | Empath Health
Clearwater, FL

Ryan began volunteering with the Suncoast Hospice Teen Volunteer program in January 2014, and has contributed over 1,000 volunteer service hours in two and a half years’ time.  In those hours, he has made more than 240 patient and family visits.  Ryan is a dedicated, resourceful, and capable young man who exhibits great leadership skills. In May 2015 he was selected to serve as one of six members of the Suncoast Hospice Teen Volunteer Regional Leadership Board/North County.  He has proven to be outstanding in this role—attending all meetings, communicating well and in a timely fashion, making welcome phone calls to new teen volunteers, following through thoroughly on all assignments, and contributing enthusiasm, ideas, and elbow grease. Ryan is incredible in terms of recruiting teen volunteers to assist with various opportunities, especially when time is limited to fill a need. On weeks where teens may be out of town or busy with family gatherings during the holidays, Ryan starts texting his fellow teen volunteers to find others who can help.

Ryan’s first volunteer role was at the Suncoast Hospice North Pinellas Care Center, and he continues to serve there today.  He is a mentor to incoming teens, making them comfortable in their new volunteer role. In addition to volunteering at the care center every Tuesday and Thursday, Ryan also volunteers every other Wednesday serving ice cream to patients and their family members. As an active Cheer Team member, Ryan regularly visits nursing home patients delivering a small craft and the gift of conversation.  Often Ryan will share with his teen volunteer coordinator that one of his patients has an upcoming birthday or special event, prompting the patient’s care team to schedule a Party Pals event.  As a Party Pals volunteer, Ryan celebrates special occasions with patients and their families, delivering flowers, cupcakes, a blanket and the most wonderful gift of all – a true interest in the patients themselves. He makes every effort to make a connection with hospice patients.  He truly puts the needs of our patients and families at the forefront of his desire to serve, as evidenced by the variety of Ryan’s volunteer roles and the outstanding number of service hours.