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Family Hospice Welcomes New Volunteers

For many, the past year has allowed a time of reflection about the value of life and what is truly important. Those who are looking to give back and help others may find fulfillment in joining the Family Hospice Centre County volunteer team to support patients with life-limiting illnesses and their caregivers.


Family Hospice volunteers embrace the opportunity and privilege to support patients and their families through a significant and inevitable season of life. This involvement takes many forms depending on the strengths and interests of the volunteers. For Victoria “Vicky” Schirm of State College, that means visiting with patients in long-term care facilities and reaching out to bereaved family members.


“My professional and especially my personal experience influenced the decision to become a hospice volunteer,” Schirm shares, recollecting her time as Director of Nursing Research at Penn State Health, Hershey Medical Center, and walking with her mother and sister as hospice patients. “The care that my mother and sister received, as well as the bereavement support for family members, made quality care a reality.”

While patient visits have been suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic began, in-person services are in the process of being reinstated with appropriate safety protocols in place. Schirm is looking forward to resuming these visits but has embraced the opportunity to connect with families through phone calls, notes and cards.


“Every experience is different, but I believe I have an appreciation and understanding of where people are coming from,” she says.


In addition to the traditional volunteer roles of patient companionship, caregiver respite and support of bereaved loved ones, Family Hospice is looking for volunteers with specialized skills and interests who would like to serve patients and families in this challenging season of life. Family Hospice is seeking volunteers with experience in music, creative expression through art projects, Reiki and pet-facilitated visits.


Volunteer involvement is determined by the individual’s skills, desires and schedule. The time commitment for a volunteer can vary from several times per month to weekly. Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator Carole Palmer provides specialized training for new volunteers, including the opportunity to partner with active volunteers.


“Our wonderful volunteers are really the heart of Family Hospice,” Palmer says. “They are the day-to-day hands and feet that make it possible for Family Hospice to minister love and compassion to our patients and their families. It is an honor to work with our volunteers who give so much of themselves to comfort others!”


To learn more about Family Hospice volunteer opportunities and requirements, contact Carole Palmer, Family Hospice Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator, at 814-569-9193 or palmerc5@upmc.edu.