It is the amazing people who dedicate their time and energy to serving Duke patients that make our volunteer programs so strong. We would be nothing without our volunteers, so we wanted to give you the opportunity to get to know them a little better.
We invite you to read over some of the personal stories they were willing to share, which are below. These people and their experiences are inspirational. Some so much so that their stories have been told before in local news releases. We have included these on the sidebar, and we welcome you to read them too. Be assured, you will be moved.
I became aware of the volunteer service as a patient of Dr. Jennifer Garst. I found comfort in the caring attitude of the volunteers -- their kindnesses are to many to list. After my surgery and radiation treatments were over I wanted to bring the comfort I experienced to other patients.
My acceptance as a volunteer was a most fortunate event. In September I will have been privileged to serve as a volunteer for three years. Little did I know that I would be the recipient of comfort and experience the feeling of accomplishment every time I volunteer.
The visitors at clinics 1B and 1C are friends I’m happy to see and serve on each return visit. New or first-time visitors are new friends I’m pleased to serve and bring comfort when possible.
In 1993, having recently moved to the Triangle area, I was told by a friend that “if you are looking for a great experience in volunteering, Duke Cancer Patient Support Program (DCPSP) is the place.” How right she was!
Being a part of this program has added an unbelievable dimension to my life -- having close relationships with patients and their families is just the beginning. DCPSP volunteers, and staff as well, are top-notch individuals in their various fields, and volunteering here gives me the opportunity to interact on a professional as well as a personal level with many of them.
The “Friday Group” (which consists of patients/families who come in on a regular basis, volunteers, staff, etc.) has become like family to me. I look forward to my weekly visit to Duke Clinic. It is rather amazing to me that a very impressive number of volunteers at DCPSP have 10++ years of service, and have no intention of “retiring”.
Thank you, DCPSP, for the many memorable hours I have spent with you and yours.
We had an employee a few years ago who had cervical cancer. She had gone through one round of treatments and they thought it was gone. She got married and eight months later it was back with a vengeance. She was only 24 years old.
I came to visit her while she was at the inpatient facility in Hillsborough. The care she received there and the support the family received was just amazing.
I had heard of Hospice but had never seen it in action. When we were contacted to see if any of our employees wanted to become volunteers, I just knew it was something I really wanted to do. Although I have received the training to go into a patient’s home, I’ve become very attached to the inpatient facility where I usually do four shifts a month. It truly is a wonderful organization and I’m proud to be part of it!
I chose to volunteer for Hospice after the death of my husband, James (Jimmie Pugh). He was diagnosed with liver cancer in February 1995. His illness progressed very rapidly and he died in July of 1995. He was my friend, my love, and my partner.
We did not get the opportunity to use hospice while he was alive, but I discovered that hospice was not just for the dying, but the living as well.
I was at wit’s end, did not want to go on. Life just had no meaning for me. I had sought out the help of professionals (i.e. doctors, psychologists, therapist, etc.) to no avail. I had just about given up.
One day, I ran into a friend and she suggested that I go to Hospice. Well, I thought, what are they going to do for me now, I’m not dying. Little did I know, they had the Hospice Bereavement Center. So, I decided to go and see what it was all about. Was I ever surprised.
I went to the office and there I met Linda Jordan, who was the warmest, kindest, and most caring person that I had met in a long, long time. She spoke with me and suggested that I sign up and come to a meeting. If I liked it stay, and if I didn’t (well I wouldn’t be any worse off).
So I came and stayed. To my amazement there were people there just like me, having gone through just what I had gone through. Slowly but surely life started to ebb back into me, it started to take on a new meaning. I began to look forward to those meetings more and more. Ms. Jordan was phenomenal. I was sorry when my six weeks were over.
At the end, Ms. Jordan gave us a small bag of stones. Some were rough, some not rough, some smooth, and some very smooth. She explained that these stones represented life, meaning there would be some rough days ahead, some not so rough, days of smooth sailing and some really smooth sailing days. I have the stones in a place where I can always get my hands on them and reflect.
To this day, I feel that I owe my life to Hospice, so volunteering for me is a way of giving back. I do it effortlessly. I feel that it is my way of helping someone who may be facing what I have faced. It may be a smile, a hug, just holding someone or talking, or whatever.
People need to know what a worthwhile organization Hospice is. I try to spread that word whenever I can. I will be forever grateful to Hospice and to Ms. Jordan for what they did for me, and I hope that I will be around for a long time to do whatever I can to help someone who might be where I was. My sincere thanks to the Hospice organization.
After living for 31 years in New Jersey, my husband and I moved to Durham five years ago to be near our daughter and her husband. While I love North Carolina and our new home, I found I was very lonely and longed to make new friends and to feel like I really belonged here. Since I had found that volunteering at our local hospital in New Jersey was a good way to meet people, I set out to find a volunteer position at one of our hospitals here.
That proved to be far more difficult than I had imagined, perhaps because the type of job I sought was not the typical volunteer type of work. I wanted to work in an office environment, doing computer and administrative work, and interacting with hospital employees instead of with patients. My previous volunteer work had involved patient interaction, which I enjoyed, but most patients I would meet once and never see them again. I wanted to establish long-term relationships.
After many phone calls and many months of trying, I was getting very discouraged. No one seemed to understand how my skills and interests could fit into volunteer work.
Then one day a wonderful woman, Helen Featherson of RSVP, called to ask me if I would be interested in working in the development office at the Duke Eye Center. I went for an interview with Sandy Scarlett and Sue Khorasanee, and within five minutes sensed an instant rapport. From that day on, in spite of organizational and personnel changes, Duke has felt like my home away from home. Each person I have worked with has become a good friend and a source of personal sharing and support.
The pay may not be great, but the hours and bonuses are wonderful! First, I take great pride in being part of such an impressive organization. When patients or visitors look lost, I love being able to help them get to where they need to go and to reassure them that they have come to a wonderful hospital. Their grateful smiles are another reward.
Second, whenever I or a family member need to see a doctor at Duke, that visit is much less threatening because I feel like part of the Duke family. Also, knowing the level of expertise of the Duke staff gives me and my family confidence and reassurance.
On a lighter note, there are all those birthday parties and other special events (also a drawback -- I’ve gone up a couple of sizes since coming to Duke). And last, it’s nice to be able to share children and grandchildren stories and pictures and have people polite enough not to act bored!
Life takes strange twists, as we all know. A week after I met my husband on a blind date 47 years ago, he went virtually blind (a new variation of that old saying, “Love is blind”). He went to many doctors and one of the premiere eye centers, but no one could diagnose his condition.
A local ophthalmologist finally diagnosed it correctly, and many months of treatment restored his vision. That experience left me with such an appreciation of how valuable our sight is. That is just another reason why I love the Duke Eye Center. I get to hear about the miraculous things that take place here.
I could go on and on about why I love volunteering at Duke, but I will just sum it up by saying, I get back far more than I give, and the wonderful people with whom I work have made Durham truly feel like my home.
As a young faculty member in the Duke Medical Center Pediatric Faculty in the 1960s, I was asked to help the assistant head nurses in the OB-GYN clinic and the full-term nursery to help them to develop a class for expectant parents and adopting parents.
The focus of the classes changed over the years from baby care and feeding to cover more topics such as choosing the baby’s medical care, day care, birth of the baby, state screening, PE, safety issues, etc. Essentially the class become more medically oriented around the infant’s birth. Obstetric nurses still managed the class schedule as part of their regular pre-natal program. I was introduced to Teer House when their offices moved to Teer House across the road, on N. Roxboro Rd., from my office.
Since I went there to schedule these classes, I was asked whether I would be interested in doing some safety classes. Since I had been the director of the Duke Poison Control Center, I felt quite strongly about preventing accidents of all types, I agreed.
I then became hooked on the mission of providing their mission of teaching all means of safety and maintenance of good health. I developed friendships with most of the staff. I decided to become a volunteer when I retired, June 30, 1995. I have never regretted it!
I have helped with mailings, including delivering the quarterly newsletter to nearby clinics; participated in a variety of health fairs at Teer House and throughout the Triangle area; worked at a rummage sale; and did a home safety display during a Bicycle Safety Day with a Durham policeman.
I love volunteering with a staff so dedicated and passionate about their mission to bring better health education to people in this area as well as people coming many miles away from Durham to participate in the educational programs given.
Volunteering is allowing me to extend my own interests in providing health care and preventive medicine to all groups and all ages in the community and surrounding area. I can’t imagine doing any volunteer work more satisfying to my personal and professional interests and letting me have such fun and meeting such a diverse group of other volunteers.
My name is Ankue Manvar and I am a HCIP intern in the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. I wanted to let you know that I am having an amazing experience in the unit. Ms. Schroeder (PBMT unit director), the nurses, doctors, staff, and families all welcomed me with open arms. I have no complaints whatsoever. I actually wanted to write you and tell you about a story that I thought you would enjoy.
Since the program began a month or so ago, I have been visiting and playing with all the kids in the unit on various occasions. Some weeks a few kids would be too upset, and other weeks they would be sleeping.
However, each week, there is this one little boy who always knew exactly what time I was coming and always made a request to his nurse for me to come and play with him, even if he was sleeping. Fortunately, his transplant two weeks ago was a success and his cells engraphed into his body.
However, this past Tuesday was probably the last time I would see him since he would get discharged in a couple of days. In my last hour before my “time” was up, he approaches me during a coloring activity and hands me a Lance Armstrong, “LiveStrong” yellow band and tells me in some extent that he “survived, and now he wants me to wear it.”
My heart skipped a few beats, not realizing that a seven-year-old boy completely trusted a stranger, me, and we became friends over such a short period of time. Though the band is a youth size and cuts off my circulation at times, I have no problem wearing it in his name as a “survivor.” This is something I will never forget, and it almost validated every reason I have for going into the medical profession.
I hope this brings a smile to you as it did for me. I wanted to thank you for executing programs such as HCIP which allow students like myself to get a feeling for what really happens in the medical field.