Hospice Heroes...Our Volunteers
Hospice of the Bluegrass has over 900 active volunteers. We appreciate each and every one. On this page we take the opportunity to introduce some of them as a way to celebrate the dedication and contributions of so many!
Kate has worked with children’s bereavement programs at Hospice of the Bluegrass for six years as a group leader in our Family Support Program and as a volunteer at our children’s bereavement camp, Camp ECHO. She works with elementary age children to provide education and facilitate peer support. The children learn about grief, about how to express their emotions and about how to connect with and support others. Kate gently and expertly guides them through this journey. She is equally skilled in her role as teacher to the graduate students who frequently co-lead groups with her. Her contributions are many and her enthusiasm and commitment are contagious!
Edwin "Sy" Sypolt
June 2, 2011 was a busy day in Frankfort at the Governor’s Mansion. We know because we were there. First Lady Jane Beshear, standing in for the Governor, presented a meaningful introductory address highlighting the value of volunteerism and commenting on the many winning nominees for the 2010 Governor’s Awards for Volunteerism and Service. Edwin “Sy” Sypolt, a volunteer for Hospice of the Bluegrass – Northern Kentucky since 2002, was awarded the Senior Volunteer Service Award for the State of Kentucky. “Sy” is one of those volunteers who is just there when called, and he is often the one we call for the difficult assignments. As stated in his nomination, “It takes a special human being to sit with a patient that suffers from diseases that are not prone to peaceful Hollywood-type endings.” “Sy” is there for those patients with Huntington’s, AIDS, ALS - not just at the 11th hour but through all the hours leading up to those final moments. He’s compassionate, caring, conscientious – a complete volunteer. “Sy” also sits on NKY’s Advisory Board and is a frequent volunteer for fundraising activities.
“Sy” takes his role as a community volunteer seriously because he knows how valuable services are to those in need. In addition to his Hospice of the Bluegrass role, he also delivers Meals-on-Wheels for Northern Kentucky Senior Services. “He’s the best of what the community offers – support, camaraderie, caring, friendship and humanity,” his nomination continued. “…He knows what life and death mean, and he faces their realities in a very meaningful way on a regular basis.”
Congratulations to “Sy” and Hospice of the Bluegrass. This is the first time one of our volunteers has ever been honored with the Governor’s Award.
Frankfort volunteer Shirley Bubany was awarded the 2011 “Outstanding Service Award” at the Kentucky Association of Hospice and Palliative Care annual conference in Louisville on May, 11. Shirley became familiar with Hospice of the Bluegrass when her husband became a hospice patient in 2005. Shortly after the passing of her husband, Shirley began her volunteer journey with Hospice of the Bluegrass.
When Shirley first became a hospice volunteer, she limited her services to respite care for families as she recognized the important need of providing caregivers a break. However, her role as a volunteer quickly began to broaden. She started visiting patients in long-term care facilities and worked used her considerable talents to make Alzheimer’s aprons and comfort bears for those who had lost a loved one.
Shirley continued to expand her responsibilities within the agency. She began working with pediatric patients, conducting life reviews, assisting with fundraisers and providing transportation to hospice patients. Moreover, Shirley has a “big picture” understanding of Hospice of the Bluegrass and understands the importance of representing hospice in the community. She works health fairs, expos, conferences and supports the bereavement program through mailings and event planning. Shirley is also very dedicated to the 11th Hour program. She says it is a wonderful experience and feels much honored to be a part of their last journey.
Shirley has so much love, compassion, dedication and commitment to all of those she serves. She strives to do all she can to add quality of life to those in need. The care of one elderly female that Shirley cared for is truly an example of these attributes. After a severe ice storm, Shirley took it upon herself to clean up large tree limbs from the patient’s front yard. She mowed this patient’s yard, planted her flowers, cooked meals and ran errands for her along with just being a good listener and friend.
Shirley goes above and beyond the requirements of a volunteer.
Carol Currans began volunteering with Hospice of the Bluegrass in 2010. She made an immediate impact on the organization as an administrative volunteer. Several departments utilized Carol’s service and found her to efficient and an asset. In addition to her administrative duties, Carol began working with patients as a “Care Call” volunteer. Every Thursday Carol calls patients to ensure they have the supplies, medications and equipment needed to get through the weekend. Her calls add peace of mind to the patient and caregiver. Of her volunteer experience Carol says, “I really enjoy volunteering at Hospice of the Bluegrass. I was drawn to the organization because of the great reputation. I wanted to help people and have really enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere when I am in the office.”
Betty Warren has been a volunteer with Hospice of the Bluegrass since 1998. When asked about her length of service, she responds by saying “time gets away from me.” During this time Betty has been a wonderful gift to patients, families and the organization as a whole.
When asked why Betty continues volunteering with Hospice of the Bluegrass, Mountain Community, her response was “volunteering provides a wonderful sense of helping someone, even if it is in a minute way.” She goes on to describe it as “finding a new friend – someone who needs you.”
As Betty recalls some past and emotionally taxing assignments she encourages others to try something new, she says that there are so many avenues that a person can serve in. She states “everybody has a talent & in hospice care there is a need for that talent.”
Barbara Call has been volunteering with Hospice of the Bluegrass for 10 years. Initially Barbara anticipated helping out with administrative duties, however, that all changed after she reluctantly agreed to help with a last minute patient care request. Upon arriving to the home she realized her first patient care assignment would be a daunting one as she encountered a feisty small dog named Scruffy. Once Scruffy saw Barb, she promptly bit her hard on the ankle. Luckily for HOB and for our patients and families, Barbara is intrepid and good with animals. Not only did Barbara make friends with Scruffy through bribes of dog bones and treats, but she stayed to serve that patient for a long period of time. Barbara says that one of the hardest things about being a volunteer is developing a close connection with the patient and family. Barbara says, “Sometimes you just click with them. They get a hold of you and you get a hold of them.” Over the years Barbara has provided myriad services for hospice patients and families including companionship, respite and transportation. Additionally, she took a patient to see his horse and “lent an ear” to the wife of a patient over coffee. As Barbara puts it, “You just never know what Hospice is going to ask of you.” For Barbara, volunteering with Hospice has taken her on many adventures and she admits to learning a great deal from our patients. She marvels at the attitude of the people she has had contact with, “they are never grumpy. I think I would be grumpy if I were in their place, but they always are so nice.” Undoubtedly Barbara is a kind, intelligent and spunky woman with a huge heart. Thank you Barbara for the work you do.
Since 1997 Connie Weikel has been a committed volunteer to Hospice of the Bluegrass. Motivated by a strong faith and an enthusiasm to be with others in need, Connie provides a variety of volunteer services to hospice patients, their families and the bereaved. While Connie is married with four grown children, she still finds time to help hospice in a variety of capacities. She makes herself available to provide respite for our caregivers, transportation for our patients and bereavement memory bears for the bereaved. Moreover, Connie is a dependable “11th hour” volunteer. 11th hour volunteers stay with patients who begin actively dying with no family present. Connie is committed to ensuring that no patient dies alone. Volunteers like Connie aid hospice in caring for patients and their families.
Ann and Cliff Simpson
Ann and Cliff are long time volunteers to Hospice of the Bluegrass. Ann attended the 1st bereavement support group in 1988. She later met Cliff during a bereavement session and after a long courtship the two were married. Since their marriage, Ann and Cliff have worked together to provide care to hospice patients, their families and the bereaved.
As long time volunteers, Ann and Cliff have watched Hospice of the Bluegrass expand and develop in Lexington and the surrounding communities. The commitment of volunteers like Ann and Cliff has enabled Hospice of the Bluegrass to grow and be a presence in the community.