Hospice volunteer in 10th year of service

Judy Motley

ALPENA — Hospice of Michigan is celebrating its dedicated team of 570 statewide volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 7 to 13.

The nonprofit relies on volunteers every day across the state to deliver companionate care to patients, visiting and engaging them in light activities like playing cards, listening to music, reading aloud or simply having conversations with them.

Judy Motley of Alpena is now in her 10th year of volunteering for Hospice of Michigan.

“Both my mother and father received hospice care,” Motley said. “Seeing firsthand the care my parents received from hospice workers really gave me a perspective of how beneficial hospice and end-of-life care can be.”

Motley volunteers as a patient companion, visiting patients and conducting bedside vigils for patients in their final days or hours and participates in Hospice of Michigan’s office and flower programs.

“I had a patient who was bedridden for five years, who always welcomed me with a smile and accepted her disabilities as part of life’s journey,” she said. “It’s special stories and memories like that which make me want to keep volunteering for Hospice of Michigan for as long as I can.”

Studies show volunteers benefit from giving back.

“Seeing the smile and appreciation for the smallest accomplishments by the patient gives me the most satisfaction in volunteering for Hospice of Michigan,” Motley said. “I hope to keep doing this for another 10 years.”

Medical professionals report emotional, social and physical benefits for those who donate their time to worthy causes, including:

∫ Building self-esteem and creating a sense of purpose — Volunteering can force you out of your comfort zone, and provide peace of mind by helping you meaningfully engage in a cause you can identify with and believe in.

∫ Alleviating loneliness, reducing stress and instilling a sense of happiness — The social connections you make through volunteering can combat depression, reduce feelings of anxiousness and alienation, and foster contentedness and positivity.

∫ Cardiovascular health — Medical professionals identified a tentative link between volunteerism and a decreased risk of hypertension among adults 50 years or older. While studies did not identify a definitive link, they suggest the higher levels of physical activity and better mental health that come with volunteering are the reason.

∫ Lower mortality rates — Along with improving cardiovascular health, research has also linked volunteering with a longer life through the greater social support.

To volunteer in the Northern Michigan area, contact Kathy Lietaert at 231-779-5409 or klietaer@hom.org.