Big Bend Hospice is here to give comfort and support to patients and the families of patients who have life-limiting illnesses. A large portion of their work is done by volunteers, and many more are needed – especially in Gadsden County.
One such volunteer is Nancy Jegart. She has been a hospice patient volunteer for around eight years and feels the experience helps her as much as it helps her clients.
“You meet the most extraordinary people,” she says, “and anything you can do to make their lives a little easier at this point gives you great satisfaction. It makes you feel blessed.”
Nancy has been a resident of Havana for more than 20 years. She jokes the only children left at home are four-legged rescues – the star being Taco, her donkey.
What are your duties as a patient volunteer?
A patient volunteer goes to the patient’s home to spend time and visit. It is different with each client. I sometimes do small chores. The best thing is, it gives the main caregiver a respite from everyday care.
How much training did you have?
I had a training session at the beginning of my service and then have had periodic updates. On Thursday, August 2 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. [Big Bend Hospice] is hosting a dinner and training in Quincy for anyone wishing to volunteer. People can call and make reservations at 850-671-6087.
What do you like most about working with hospice?
I have met the most amazing people – beautiful souls. These are people I would never have crossed paths with otherwise. Volunteering has helped me grow emotionally and spiritually in an area that most of us avoid.
What is the hardest part of working for hospice?
When you can’t help as much as you want to and, of course, when they pass on. It’s a job where you can’t fix them.
What do you do for fun to unwind from volunteering?
I love to TRAVEL! My donkey is Mr. Personality and I enjoy him thoroughly. I enjoy reading, writing, drawing, friends and being with family. I’m scuba certified but I haven’t done much of that lately. Oh, and I’m registering for an archery class.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a volunteer?
Find a volunteer and sit down and talk about it. Then try it, because your commitment is only as long as you wish. Volunteers are badly needed in Gadsden County and you don’t have to be a patient volunteer. There are many positions such as greeters and office workers.
Is there anything further you’d like to say to the people of Gadsden County?
I think Big Bend Hospice is an outstanding organization. I wish that people would take advantage of its services. It helps families as much as it helps patients. People sometimes want to avoid hospice because they don’t want to think about losing life or the life of their loved ones. Big Bend Hospice just makes the transition easier and their services should be utilized. To make things easier for people who don’t want to enter hospice because they are worried about their pets, Big Bend has a new program, Pet Peace of Mind, to help deal with this.
By Judy Conlin