Making a Difference
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia
Reluctance and frustration. That’s what 76-year-old Frank Safranek felt when his cardiologist suggested Arbor Hospice in April 2012. He spent 38 years developing clay models of new cars for General Motors. Upon his retirement in 1998, Frank spent hours in his workshop sculpting and developing his woodworking skills. But beginning 2008, Frank’s health declined. He had congestive heart failure and the beginnings of dementia, severely limiting his ability to safely work in his workshop.
Frank was frustrated, bored and agitated. But with the care, support and companionship provided by Arbor Hospice, Frank’s frustrations eased.
“Frank was hooked on Arbor Hospice and the care he was receiving,” said Helga, Frank’s wife. “He adored his nurse and aide and found relaxation with massage therapy. But it was the Arbor Hospice volunteers that really made an impact on Frank.”
Over the course of eight months, Frank enjoyed the company of three Arbor Hospice volunteers. They each provided companionship and a listening ear by engaging in activities Frank enjoyed.
“One of the volunteers was a carpenter, and helped Frank varnish one of his unfinished projects. I can’t begin to explain how much that meant to us. To have someone spend time with Frank and help him do something he loved, was so wonderful. After months of being unable to use his artistic skills and work in his workshop, Frank had that opportunity.”
The other volunteer wasn’t a carpenter, but came prepared nonetheless. With an Ipad in hand, Randy Desrochers visited Frank on a weekly basis prepared to research the artists Frank would talk about.
“I met Frank at an interesting time in his life,” Randy said. “Frank couldn’t engage in the activities he loved but he could still relive his life and talk about the artists and works of art that he knew so well. Frank and I would look at all sorts of artwork and flip through his sketchbook. Everything had a story, and I was glad to listen to Frank tell them.”
In fact, Randy recorded eight hours of Frank’s storytelling and gave the recordings to Frank’s wife – a gift she cherishes.
“Frank was so impressed by Randy,” Helga said. “He couldn’t believe that Randy, a surgeon, would spend his free time visiting him. I was so grateful to have these volunteers on a regular basis. It gave me a chance to take a walk or run an errand – one time I even attended an opera.”
What motivates Randy and the rest of Arbor Hospice’s volunteers? The opportunity to make a difference.
“When I became an Arbor Hospice volunteer, I really thought I was going to help people die, but I’m doing the opposite. I’m helping people live,” Randy said. “As a surgeon, I’m kicking myself for not recommending hospice services sooner for my patients who were at end-of-life. I now understand that hospice services are a gift that help people live life to the fullest.”
At Arbor Hospice, this is what we are all about – enhancing quality of life and helping patients and families do what is most important to them.
If you are interested in becoming an Arbor Hospice volunteer, please call (734) 794-5396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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