Green Lake area hospice volunteer helps families find comfort

Shelly Haberman
Vicki Schwark

It may have taken some initial convincing, Vicki Schwark has not turned back from her decision to become a hospice volunteer - something she has done for the past 18 years.

“I was recruited by a long-time hospice volunteer who continued to encourage me because he believed I would be a good hospice volunteer,” Vicki recalls. “I don’t recall the exact moment when I was convinced, but at some point, something clicked, and I realized that I wanted to serve.”

When first starting, Vicki helped at Agnesian HealthCare’s Hospice Home of Hope serving meals on a weekly basis, in addition to helping at the Agnesian HealthCare Bereavement Center.

Currently, Vicki serves in the Green Lake area offering respite care and companionship. She also helps with medication runs as needed, and volunteers at the Ripon Medical Center gift shop twice a month.

“As a hospice volunteer, I visit patients in facilities and private homes,” Vicki explains. “In a private home, a hospice volunteer gives the family member peace of mind because they know there is someone caring for their loved one while they step out of the home to run errands, go to appointments or get a much-needed break. In a facility a hospice volunteer can give peace of mind to the families that are not able to be present. They know that someone is taking the time to visit their loved one.”

Vicki finds great fulfillment in volunteering.

“I appreciate connecting with the patient and families, getting to know them and being a part of a very vulnerable time in their lives,” she says. “Families appreciate what you have done and the relationship you were able to build while helping them. You know that you have made a ‘small difference’ in someone else’s life.”

It’s easy for Vicki to recommend that others follow in her footsteps.

“I tell everybody to not be afraid,” Vicki says. “The hospice program is set up in such a way that you are always supported. Whether the nurses or the volunteer coordinator, they are always available to support volunteers. You are able to help in ways that families may not be able to and you are also able to help patients when their families are not available to help. It has been a rewarding experience!”

Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope provides an extensive training program designed to equip volunteers for the varied types of service. Hospice Hope in the greater Fond du Lac and Green Lake areas are currently looking for more volunteers who are placed in their own geographic areas, including: Waupun, Beaver Dam, Juneau, Fox Lake, Randolph, Princeton, Markesan, Ripon, Green Lake and Wautoma. Hospice Hope is currently in need of volunteers to help with companionship and respite, pet therapy and veteran programs.

If you have the desire to help others, grow personally and give something back to your community, consider becoming an Agnesian HealthCare volunteer at Hospice Hope, Ripon Medical Center, or both!

The next training session for Hospice is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, September 30 at Ripon Medical Center, 845 Parkside Street in Ripon. Application and interview must be completed prior to the class.

For more information, call Betty Walleser, Hospice Hope volunteer coordinator, at (920) 294-6220 or beatriz.walleser@ssmhealth.com.

Or if you wish to be one of the more than 140 volunteers at Ripon Medical Center, you may share your time and talent at the information desk, surgery department, gift shop, mobile meals, wellness center and inpatient unit. To learn more or apply online, visit agnesian.com/volunteer.

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