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Hospice looking for volunteers to help tell life story

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Hospice of Miami County is searching for dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer musicians, writers and videographers to help Hospice patients tell their life story to leave as their legacy for the family they are about to leave behind. Death is a hard time for the patient and loved ones, but Hospice is offering a chance for the patient to leave something very special and memorable.

“The ‘My Story’ program at Hospice of Miami County was started in late 2012. Approximately a dozen recordings have been completed to date,” said Krissy McKim-Barker, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator. “With the revitalization of this program and an increase number of volunteer interest, Hospice of Miami County’s goal is to provide every patient who wishes to do a recording the ability to do so.”

Patients of Hospice who are interested in having a ‘My Story’ production, which is a CD recording accompanied by music, place a request with the nurse or case worker. The request is sent over to the volunteer’s department for completion.

“My main reason for getting involved with ‘My Story’ is to help leave a legacy for family members and help preserve family history,” said Troy volunteer, Wayne Melgaard. “People often inquire about the history of their loved one once that person has already passed away, and through these recordings, the stories and memories are never forgotten.”

To ensure the success of the program, after an extensive training, the volunteer interviewers are provided a booklet titled, ‘Telling My Life’s Story: The Caregiver’s Guide to Conducting a Life Review with the Hospice Patient” to use as a guideline. The booklet was written and created by Marty Hogan, LCSW, MSW. She has been guiding Hospice patients and their families through the dying process since 1993.

The booklet contains both open-ended and closed questions. It begins with questions of their childhood and moving chronologically through their life. During the session, volunteer interviewers may use photographs, music, or memorabilia to remind them of special moments they might want to record. It is especially helpful with patients who might have memory loss.

‘My Story’ allows their last voice and is a special time that allows the patient a time to reflect and process the events that have created who they are as a person and preserve their legacy. In doing so, patients get a chance to celebrate happy memories that brought joy to their life. It helps them find a sense of serenity and peace. After their ‘My Story’ is completed, the patients are offered copies of their recordings to leave for their family and friends.

“I am happy to have three volunteers on board that bring a wealth of technical knowledge of the recording and editing process to the table,” said McKim-Barker. “Anyone interested in volunteering are welcome to participate. In order to be successful, no prior experience or expertise is required- just a sense of curiosity and respect for the person for whom you are doing the life review are an interviewer’s greatest tool.”

The volunteers certainly play a key role in meeting Hospice’s mission. As patients tell their story, it helps them gain a well-deserved sense of peace, belonging, and value. The gift left behind for families, friends and generations to come are priceless.

The ‘My Story’ program is just one of several volunteer programs at Hospice of Miami County. For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Krissy McKim-Barker at (937) 573-2115 or email kmckimbarker@hospiceofmiamicounty.org. All volunteers must go through one of many orientations that begin in April. Volunteers must also undergo a TB screening process and background check.

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