WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s a full-circle moment for Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice. They’re one of the oldest running nonprofit hospice centers in Wichita, according to staff, started by volunteers in the 1980s.
Now, leaders say due to COVID-19, they’re back to where they started, in need of volunteers.
“Hospice is federally mandated to have 5% of their man-hours come from volunteers,” said Karen Sherbak, director of volunteers at Harry Hynes.
When people could spend volunteer hours playing with animals, or laughing with children, hospice isn’t always the first choice for people to spend their time.
“It’s hard for people to wrap their head around it if they haven’t had a family member or something like that or they haven’t been touched by it,” said Mike Palmer, Harry Hynes Hospice volunteer.
Most people find their way to volunteering at Harry Hynes the same way after a loved one receives care.
“We came to hospice when my wife’s oncologist informed us that we reached a point where there’s nothing else we could do for treatments, and we needed to make arrangements to make the rest of her time as comfortable as possible,” said Palmer.
Mike’s wife Terry battled pancreatic cancer.
Twenty-two years later, Mike followed through on his commitment for better or worse, till death do us part.
“Not only did they come in and do their job, but they educated me on what to do in their absence and how to do things. You know, whoever thought you’d have to change a diaper or something like that,” said Mike.
While nurses and staff cared for Terry physically, Mike was being supported emotionally.
After Terry’s passing, Mike came back as a volunteer.
“I really did not want to be involved with direct patient care, that was still pretty raw for me,” said Mike.
He was put to work volunteering in others ways, assisting around the office.
“You know that somewhere some shape or form you are, you are helping families out there that are dealing with horrible horrible circumstances, and it doesn’t matter what the form of volunteerism is that you’re doing, be it the quilting, be it the baking, be it sitting with the patient, or being in here and doing spreadsheets,” said Mike.
“There’s something for everybody.”
Spending time volunteering, focusing on death, may not have the appeal other non-profits do, for Mike, it’s brought new joy to life.
“You can’t go wrong. You won’t be sorry that you did it, and you’ll meet some fantastic people along the way,” said Mike.
Volunteers at Harry Hynes go through an orientation program. Harry Hynes officials say the program teaches potential volunteers “everything there is to know about hospice”.
- Patient/ family support
- End-of-life support/comfort crossing
- Pharmacy Delivery (Wichita Only)
- Staff support
- Inpatient Unit (IPU)
- Cooking and baking
- Sewing and knitting
- Memory Garden
Harry Hynes Memorial is also looking to expand volunteer services including music and pet therapy, spiritual elements and story keeping.