Though many, perhaps even a majority, of our volunteers find their way to us because we care for a loved one, there are a number of people who end up serving us because of kismet. Such is the case of our Volunteer Spotlight honoree.
At the beginning of 2014, the Annapolis resident was looking for ways to give back to the community and found herself clicking through the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Center’s online opportunities. She was immediately drawn to our posting for Veteran-to-Veteran volunteers.
After serving 20 years in the Air Force, where she also met her husband, the retired Lt. Col. Gayle Bremer didn’t bother looking any further. Her decision to volunteer with Hospice of the Chesapeake was confirmed many times over, starting with the first time she cared for a patient. “You know when you find your thing, and you feel as if you are floating on a cloud? It just feels so right,” she paused, and then exclaimed, “This is my thing!”
Lucky for us, because once someone finds their thing, they want more of it. Bremer is a patient care volunteer and vigil volunteer to both Veterans and non-Veterans, actively serves on our We Honor Veterans Committee, represents us in the community at outreach events and helps plan our Veterans events.
But perhaps one of her favorite ways to serve is by participating in Honor Salutes. There is so much emotion that comes with the acknowledgement of their service to the nation, the thank-you notes from schoolchildren and the pride of the family who are preserving their loved one’s legacy with this one simple act. “They’re over the top,” she said. “I tear up every time.”
“She is a joy to work with behind the scenes in volunteer services, but even more so enjoyed by our patients,” said Nicole Malatesta, the volunteer services coordinator who handles our Veterans initiatives. “As a veteran, she is able to form a deep connection with other Veterans.”
Our volunteers always say they get back more than they give. That seemed difficult to achieve in Bremer’s case, seeing how much she invests. However, her mother recently was admitted to hospice care. She credits her experience with Hospice of the Chesapeake for not only preparing herself to care for her mother, but also to help her father in his new role as caregiver. “I know I’m walking through this differently because of Hospice of the Chesapeake.”