For this month's volunteer spotlight, we sat down with long-time volunteer Jacqueline Bouchard, Jackie for short. Jackie is a long-time Port Albernian and enjoys gardening, being outside, and doing what she can to make others smile and laugh. Jackie is quite funny and always brings a smile to the face of our residents and their loved ones.
Jackie spoke of her first impression of Hospice/Ty Watson House and what it was like for her to start with us. "My first impression was that it is a wonderful organization, and every town should have one. My friend who was volunteering at Ty Watson House when the house first opened mentioned the opportunity, and I took the Hospice training course. It was a real eye-opener for me." Jackie also is a part of the Red Hatters Club in Port Alberni.
"Currently, I volunteer at Ty Watson House, baking, cleaning. I also do vigil sitting in the community and help with events. I also make quilts and donate them to Hospice." We asked Jackie what motivated her to stay involved with us, and she said, "I like to be here. I feel I am needed. I like to be able to support the residents and their families. There is always something to do." In Jackie's opinion, Ty Watson House is one of the most important programs or services that AV Hospice offers. "It is important to have a place for those in the community who are palliative and their families. A home away from home, providing respite for families and caregivers."
Jackie spoke about how volunteering has had an impact on her life. "I appreciate my life a little bit more. I have so much to give and do. I used to be afraid of death and illness, now I have a better understanding of the process, and I am not afraid."
We asked Jackie to tell us about a meaningful time that has happened while volunteering. Jackie said, "I will always remember sitting vigil in the community with a lady whose husband requested respite so he could go into town. I was only meant to be there for two hours but ended up staying for five hours. I found out afterward that her husband had gone out of town to find supplies that might help cure her. Everyone needs different things, and I was able to help him by being at his wife's side."
Jackie mentioned that the biggest surprise for her while volunteering is all the different family dynamics. "At one point, there was a resident who had four children, and none of them were speaking with each other. I was in the kitchen with all of them, and other volunteers and I were able to help get the ball rolling with conversations, and eventually, they were able to speak with each other."
We asked Jackie what she would say to those in the community who are thinking about volunteering, and Jackie said, "I would recommend they try it at least. You never know. You might end up loving it. I did it and liked it!"
Jackie acknowledging that there is a stigma attached to Hospice but that there is so much more to Hospice than just end-of-life care. Jackie finished by saying, "Who will do it if we don't?"
Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers, and thank you to Jackie for sitting down with us!