On Becoming a Hospice Northwest Volunteer

Submitted by Peter Strawson, Hospice Northwest volunteer

In 2011, being long retired and feeling somewhat bored reading and watching TV, I noticed a newspaper article about Hospice Northwest and their need for volunteers, particularly of the male gender.

I was already familiar with Hospice Northwest from my volunteer days with the United Way when I served on a committee that investigated the agencies to insure that the available funds were fairly distributed. I recall giving Hospice Northwest high marks for the work they did on a small budget.

I telephoned Terri, the volunteer coordinator, who informed me, much to my surprise, that to become a volunteer I had to attend a 3 month course of instruction. After getting over my initial shock I still applied and found the course to be extremely interesting with great speakers and presenters. I even learned that humour can be associated with one’s last days.

I’m now a Hospice veteran of 4 years service. Although my friends are usually too polite to say so, many of them think it strange that I volunteer for Hospice Northwest as they think that what I do is sit around and commiserate with dying people. In reality, I have found all the clients that I have met, alas all guys, have been friends with interesting stories of past days and with most of whom we had mutual acquaintances. We spend our time together joking and comparing stories from our mutual pasts with interesting friends.

Being a bit of a “showboater” it’s good to have an occasional new audience for my worn-out jokes and stories. In turn I get new material from my hospice clients. Although they are aware of their impending mortality I have found all my clients have faced the future with courage and humour.

So far it has been a great experience.