Local teens dispel generation me image by volunteering with Hospice

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whats the matter with kids these days? as the old song goes. Not much, if you go by what 90 young Hospice volunteers are up to after school and on weekends. These kids put the lie to the expression Generation Me by serving as patient companions, greeters at the Smith Phayer House, and worker bees at the Hospice Thrift Barn.

Fifteen-year-old Meghan Wofford of Landrum High School puts it best when she says: Hospice allows me to help others and get to know older people better. You might think its not much fun, but it is. Its a bundle of fun.

Meghan should know. She serves as a companion to 98-year-old Lillian Forester of White Oak Manor, and says they both look forward to her weekly visits. When I come in, she always says Ive been looking for you. It might seem funny for a 15-year-old and a 98-year-old to bond, Meghan says, but Miss Forester had all sons and no daughters, and she likes me to sit with her and talk about everything.

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Its not as if Meghan had nothing else to do, but when Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Tracey Brannon came to Landrum High School recruiting volunteers, she saw it as an awesome opportunity. Even though her desire to become a pediatrician is focused on the other end of lifes spectrum, she realized that Hospice could provide an opportunity to do something worthwhile for her community, while giving her an inside look at the medical field to make sure it was a good fit for her.

With the support of her parents, Meghan decided to find a way to fit Hospice into her schedule of cheerleading, homework and membership in service clubs, while still playing piano and singing in her church choir.

It was Meghans idea to volunteer, her mother Wanda says, but Philip and I completely supported her in it, and since shes not old enough to drive and I would be taking her to the training classes anyway, I decided to take the training too, she explains. Its a way for us to stay bonded as mother and daughter while giving to others in a meaningful way.

That bonding is evident in the look exchanged between the two as they explain their shared philosophy: What you do and give to others in life matters. If you find opportunities to give, it will come back to you. They both feel that Hospice has already given back to them, most recently by seeing them through the death of Meghans great grandmother. She explains that taking the Hospice training made it easier for her to be OK with her great grandmothers death and see that death is a natural part of life.

Obviously, this family views community service in the same light, including Meghans brother Ethan who volunteers at the Hospice Thrift Barn and is also active in AmeriCorps and Rescue 11. As parents, we would like our children to develop a sense of self and community, and to understand what makes life special, Wanda says. A touch, a smile, a hugthese are all gifts we can give to others.

For more information about opportunities to volunteer for Hospice, contact Volunteer Coordinator Tracey Brannon at 828-894-7000 or visit Hospice of the Carolina Foothills on Facebook or their web site: www.hocf.org.