Volunteering a family affair at Hospice of the Carolina Foothills

Published 3:25 pm Friday, March 26, 2010

While the stated mission of Hospice of the Carolina Foothills (HoCF) is providing compassionate care for individuals and their families in our community, it could easily be rephrased as providing compassionate care by individuals and their families for our community.

The number of local families with multiple members volunteering for HoCF begs the question: Just what is it that is so rewarding about volunteering for Hospice that prompts couples and entire families to step up? Tracey and Doug Brannon would be two people to ask, with a total of nine family members volunteering for HoCF.

Tracey, who is one of the Volunteer Coordinators at HoCF, began her involvement as a volunteer by helping Doug and his parents cook the breakfast to honor volunteers at Christmastime. Now the family roster is made up of Tracey, Doug and their four teenage children (Spike, Chris, Lexi and Cody). But thats not all. Parents Caroline Schulz and Marion and Norm Brannon volunteer as well. Among the nine of them, they are involved in so many projects it is almost dizzying.

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Not only do they volunteer at The Hospice Thrift Barn, they cut and deliver firewood to Hospice patients, clean up the yard at Smith Phayer Hospice House, handle routine office chores, help with the Christmas parade float, prepare items for volunteer training and outreach projects, and continue to help with the annual volunteer breakfast.

Helping my mom and volunteering for Hospice makes me feel needed, and I know it makes a difference in peoples lives, says Traceys 16-year-old son, Chris.

And Tracey Brannons family is far from alone when it comes to family volunteers. Dorothy and Gene Wyckoff are a husband and wife team who work together at Smith Phayer Hospice House, greeting visitors, delivering meals, watering flowers and doing the many small things that make patients and families comfortable.

Dallas and Leona Seiler and Bill and Helen Johnson are husband and wife teams who visit patients in nursing homes, delivering supplies, smiles, and encouragement. Why, we always do everything together, says Leona Seiler, when asked about the nearly eight years she and her husband Dallas have volunteered for Hospice. Its just more fun that way. She explains that the couple worked hard during their 58-year marriage and now that they are retired, they have the time to expend their energy on the volunteering theyve always wanted to do. In addition, Leona and Helen also double as Good Samaritans (Hospice liaisons) in their respective churches.

Wanda Wofford, her daughter Meghan and son Ethan all serve HoCF as volunteers. Although Meghans life is filled with sports and extracurricular activities, Ethan is a college student, and Wanda works as a graphic artist, they all find time to volunteer. Through AmeriCorps, Ethan helps at the Thrift Barn and also does heavy lifting at the N.C. office in Columbus and delivers firewood to patients when needed.

Meghan is a patient companion and Thrift Barn volunteer, and Wanda is a patient companion and helps with an outreach program called Feet on the Street.

Wanda has this to say about the familys involvement: As parents, we would like our children to develop a sense of self and community to understand what makes life special. A little bit of time, a touch, a smile, a hugthese are the gifts we can give to others, and Hospice provides a perfect opportunity.

Father and daughter, Keith and Kathleen Lee, stand out among family teams. Kathleen, 23, has Downs syndrome and works with her father at the Hospice Thrift Barn. Kathleen is naturally a giving and compassionate person, according to her father. She loves to be in social environments where shes helping people. Working at the Hospice Thrift Barn is a hand-and-glove match. I have enjoyed working alongside Kathleen and giving back to the community.

Next month, Kathleen will do double duty, appearing as one of the models in the Landrum High School Fashion Show, Silent Auction & BBQ fundraiser on April 5 for the benefit of HoCF.

Two other parent/child duos who are active volunteers at HoCF are Abbi and Kelli Wood; and Kelly and Shana Branham.

Fifteen other couples donate their time and talents in a variety of ways that contribute to the mission of HoCF as patient companions, Caring Canines, Hospice House greeters, bereavement volunteers, office assistants, couriers, Thrift Barn workers, and board members. They are Brenda and Clay Ayers; Shannon Carney and David Pschirer; Anne and DeWayne Carroll; Bill and Betty Cline; Roz Evans and John Flynn; John and Betsy Filopovicz; Walt and Nancy Flaschar; Don and Rosemary Iaffaldano; Bill and Mary Clare Jenks; Diane and Mike McEntee; Ron and Rosemary Smith; Brenda and Gordon Snite; Leo and Mariana Tarpley; Jim and Kathleen Warmack; and Jacquie and Jack Wright.

Hospice says they are also appreciative of siblings and cousins who bring them, not rivalry, but cooperation as they volunteer for HoCF: Katherine and Kaitlyn Dill; Savanna, Justin and Jessica Murriel; Hank, Olivia and Lily Nelson; Erik and Johnathon Osterud; Eric and Matthew Overton; Kayla, Meagan and Marah Painter; Mary Christine, Caroline, and Michaela Potter; and Damien Lee and Brianna Bateman.

For more information about how you and your family can offer time and talents to the mission of Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, contact Tracey Brannon at 828.894.7000, 800.617.7132, or tbrannon@hocf.org.