Points of Light
Remember that volunteer program called 1,000 points of light? I was thinking about that this morning at our Hospice of Haines board meeting. We were up at the volunteer coordinator's house, since she has a newborn baby girl and a small son and said it would be easier for her.
The baby was asleep in her carrier on the counter when we arrived, and the toddler was in a cave of chairs and blankets nearby. There were cinnamon rolls baking in the oven and out the wide picture windows all of Haines was just getting going. ( We meet at 8:30.) After yesterday's storm this morning was even more glorious, with just enough snow to make everything clean and reflect the sunrise lavendar and apricot on the mountains behind Fort Seward. (It's snowing hard again, so I'm glad we saw the sky when we did.) Our volunteer Hospice takes care of people who are mostly not dying, rather just older and need some help, although the volunteers are all trained in end of life issues and care.
Our board includes a postal worker who is also an artist, a former kindergarden teacher who is also a calligrapher, a retired teacher who is also a dog trainer. (Okay, she has one bouncy golden retriever and she still works part-time taking care of children and adults with special needs) a catholic deacon who is also so many things I can't list them all, a long distance runner who was not there because she is running in Mexico, a very bright treasurer who also works at the propane company, and me. ) Anyway, we did our business in hushed voices so as not to wake the baby. Our hostess reported that Hospice served 20 clients with 28 volunteers last month. The volunteers spend anywhere from 2 hours a week with their client/friends to 18 hours-- a week.
I have volunteered in a home, but for now do my duty over at the new Haines Assisted Living facility, or HAL. (I know, HAWC for a choir now HAL for that-- we need to do something about names around here.) And I am feeling a little guilty, since it isn't like community service at all. I tell my friends or family I can't be somewhere or do something because I have to volunteer for Hospice and they think I'm virtuous. In truth, I'm sitting by the warm woodstove watching the snow fall on downtown out the big windows while playing a game with dice and marbles called Aggravation all afternoon with three snappy older gals that make me laugh, a lot. I even get warm cookies and hot tea.
When I said that seemed like cheating, I should do more, everyone else chimed in with their own volunteer stories, and shared a few from the dozens of Hospice volunteers. How one volunteer brings fresh bread when she drops in and another really misses a client who died, but has found a new "friend" and is having a great time.
And it's not just Hospice that has this boomerang of good deeds effect. One of my friends, who had trouble killing squirrels at his cabin, spent last weekend in a hunter safety class with his "Little Brother" because the boy wants to hunt. "Let's just hope we are really bad at it and don't kill anything" he said afterward, but he was smiling.
Volunteer coaches are holding youth basketball practice, volunteer Cub Scout leaders den meetings and volunteer re-cyclers are banding cardboard. There's a volunteer reading the news about the winter storm warning on the radio right now. I would tell you something moving and brilliant about all of this, but I have to write up my part for the new community foundation newsletter and there is a policy committee meeting at the library in a half hour. If I get there early, the volunteers making the decorations for the holiday lighting of the library will no doubt talk me into twisting some wire or sprinkling some glitter. The good news is that I'm so bad at crafty things that they won't ask me to come back and volunteer tomorrow.