What is the power of kindness? Just ask a hospice volunteer.
For Florence Ford, whatever she puts into it comes back twice. A retired nurse, she started as a compassionate care volunteer in Calvert County over 13 years ago.
“The return is double,” Flo said. “When you’re going to go see somebody, you plan your day, think about the traffic, your drive there and back. And then when you get there, the time is well spent. Coming back, you don’t think about the traffic, you don’t think about the day, you’re just relaxed, maybe emotional about the person you were with, but in a positive way.”
What led her to volunteer in hospice happened 40 years ago when she and her family were living in Virginia. “I had a very dear friend who died in a hospice house. Visiting her was so warming because she was so comfortable and so alert. That impressed me about hospice.”
That moment stayed with her years later when she and her husband Skip moved to Calvert County and she was fully retired from nursing. When she wanted to do something valuable with this newly found free time, she knew it would be volunteering for hospice.
She figures she has cared for 20 to 25 patients and their families over the years, and every one of them was welcoming and grateful. “I haven’t met anybody who wasn’t receptive and appreciative. You walk in the door and they are happy to see you. Whatever you are giving to them you are getting back twice as much,” she said.
Part of the nature of volunteering is sometimes you don’t realize you’re volunteering. It becomes a way of life.
As with most compassionate care volunteers, caring for the patient also means caring for the family caregiver. Flo said that when they open the door, the family shows an immediate sense of relief. Even if they stay in the home while she is spending time with the patient, they can relax knowing someone is there to take care of their loved one.
Flo enjoys the hospice team and other volunteers so much that when the nonprofit’s The Shoppe for Hospice boutique opened, she offered to volunteer there, too. “Part of the nature of volunteering is sometimes you don’t realize you’re volunteering. It becomes a way of life,” Flo said. “It’s part of my social life.”
Part of that social experience means she shares her experience as a hospice volunteer and has quite a few friends who signed on. “Friends of mine who have taken the volunteer course, they just say, ‘Wow’.”
“My message to potential volunteers is if you want something that’s going to make you feel good, become a hospice volunteer,” Flo said. “It’s a good way of life.”
And that’s the power of kindness.