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Hospice volunteer marks 10 years

Terry Butler of Hudson has reached the 10-year mark as a volunteer for Adoray Hospice.

Butler started volunteering after completing the hospice volunteer training offered by the organization. She has been visiting with patients and their families ever since.

"Early on, I had a wonderful relationship with a woman I'll never forget," Butler said. "She didn't have the ability to talk because she had throat cancer, but we learned to communicate."

Butler found that she did all the talking and the patient nodded her response.

"She was just a few years older than me, so that was hard," Butler said, knowing her death was coming. "But it was so worthwhile to know her. She was always happy, in spite of her condition."

Most of her visits have involved sitting with a patient, sometimes so the caregiver can run errands. I find that the patients and families are comforted by me being there," she said.

Hospice care helps a patient facing a terminal illness to have the best possible quality of life, enriching the time with his or her family. Under the direction of the patient's physician, the hospice team of registered nurses, aides, social workers, spiritual counselors and volunteers provide pain and symptom management as well as emotional and spiritual support to the patient and family. Volunteers give practical help, emotional support and provide much needed relief for those caring for a loved one.

"We so appreciate those who serve as hospice volunteers," said Debbie Milligan, Adoray Hospice volunteer coordinator. "They are indispensable to the patients and families we serve, and are key members of our hospice team."

Adoray Hospice offers volunteer training once each fall. "We are especially in need this year of volunteers willing to drive to Prescott or the Somerset and Osceola areas," said Milligan.

Milligan and other Adoray staff members share practical knowledge and their own experiences with hospice during the sessions.

Butler found the two-day training helped prepare her to be with hospice patients.

"I think the training prepared me for the realities of disease and the progression it takes," Butler added. "Oftentimes, the patient may be close to death and not awake very much. So I may just hold a hand and be there."

The training educates community members to become part of the Adoray Hospice team. Those in attendance learn the philosophy of hospice care and are prepared for the complex challenges patients and their families face when coping with a terminal illness. The training also covers the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of death and dying.

Even though the families appreciate her visits, Butler feels she gets more out of it than she puts in. "Volunteering for hospice makes me feel good about myself," she said. "My dad always said, 'Do something good for nothing.' That's what I do."

Volunteer training

Information sessions about the hospice volunteer program are at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, at Westfields Hospital, New Richmond, or Tuesday, Oct. 14, at River Falls Area Hospital.

Those who choose to become volunteers will attend two days of classes Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, at the Adoray office in Baldwin. Especially needed are volunteers willing to drive to Prescott or the Somerset and Osceola areas.

Pre-registration is preferred for the information sessions; call Debbie Milligan at (715) 684-5020 or (800) 359-0174.

Adoray is a not-for-profit home health and hospice agency serving patients in St. Croix, Pierce, western Dunn and southern Polk counties.