Volunteer Spotlight: Katja Strube

AVHS is happy to announce Katja Strube as our first 2022 Volunteer Spotlight for January.  Katja joined our hospice team in September 2021 and began volunteering at Ty Watson House, and as of this past November began facilitating our weekly Walk & Talk Bereavement Group.  Katja will be adding to her services experience by joining our Telephone Companioning Group over the next few months, where she will continue to provide support and assistance to the community.

“Amazing people, amazing organization.”

When Katja isn’t busy with family, work, and volunteering, she enjoys winding down in her free time with a walk alongside her sweet but as Katja would say “stubborn” pooch Benny or taking her ATV out for some fun and connecting with nature while gardening.

Katja shared her first impression of volunteering with AVHS, “I immediately felt so welcomed and inspired by everyone I’ve met so far, amazing people, amazing organization.”

For so many of us our reason for choosing to volunteer with hospice may have come from a personal experience with grief and loss as it did for Katja and her family in 1998 with her father’s cancer diagnoses.  Katja said of her experience “We as a family felt pretty helpless.”  At that time there was no palliative care home available only hospital care and her father was denied, Katja went on to share “We cared for him as a family.  No one was there to guide us or help take over Dad’s care so that we could have a break.”  In 2014 it was while Katja was reading the newspaper that she came across an ad to become a Hospice Volunteer at her local hospice.  Katja applied and started supporting the residents and their families.  In February 2021 Katja moved to Port Alberni and was thrilled that there was a hospice in our community.  We asked Katja about her first impression of AVHS and Ty Watson House, her reply was “Going to Ty Watson House and getting to meet all the amazing people who work hard day after day, it shows that all people working and volunteering for AVHS really care.”  Some would say hospice is a place where people go to die, and families grieve, but Katja described it differently saying, “It’s also a warm place where people can also laugh and feel comfortable expressing their loving memories and gratitude.”

For Katja and so many volunteers, hospice volunteering helped them as a family to cope with their grief and loss.  She also shared these thoughts with us: “I learned so much from volunteering with hospice that I felt strong and capable enough to help my mom.”  With Katja’s volunteering experience, she did not feel the helplessness or fear this time when sitting by her mother’s bedside when she passed in 2019.

Volunteering with hospice helped Katja and her family.  The biggest surprise for Katja is that hospice work is also fun and very fulfilling.  Katja says “There are so many memories and stories I have where I was laughing with people as they shared their stories of a loved one who had passed.”  With a lot of personal stories can come laughter and a warm feeling that is very rewarding and fulfilling.  We asked Katja if there was anything more, she would like to add.  Katja said “I’m looking forward to working with great people in an incredible environment, I thank you all for having me.”  We thank YOU Katja for taking time out to share your experiences.  We are delighted to have you join the team!

“I think no one should be left alone when they are terminally ill, including the families trying to deal with the changed circumstances.  Making a difference in a person’s life is my motivation.”  Katja Strube


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