Paying It Forward

November 05, 2016

Like clockwork for the past three years, Dave starts his Tuesday mornings at the farmer’s market, before he heads to the Adventist Health hospice house where he delivers bouquets of flowers, smiles and words of good cheer. Like the actions displayed in the movie Pay It Forward, Dave’s weekly visits create a similar ripple effect all their own.

Dave’s routine originated when his wife was receiving chemotherapy treatments at the Adventist Health Cancer Center. Bringing flowers gave Dave something to do and something to bring. When his wife transitioned to hospice, he continued the ritual as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation.

 “I’ve been impressed with hospice care from the moment Dianne, my wife of 50 years and two months, began receiving care,” said Dave. “It’s simply my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the entire hospice staff for the relentlessly positive attitude they display each and every day.”

For patients faced with a life-limiting illnesses, hospice care is available and tailored to meet the individual needs of the patients and families. An interdisciplinary team that includes volunteers provides whole-person care, which includes nursing, counseling, spiritual care and bereavement support.

Across America more than a million people are served by hospice agencies each year. Volunteers are a valued and integral part of the hospice team, providing important services to the patients and families served. Adventist Health hospice volunteers donated more than 7,300 hours of service in 2015.

Typical volunteer duties include:

  • Listening to a patient’s concerns and being a supportive presence;

  • Letting hospice staff know the needs of the patient and family;

  • Providing respite for the caregiver to take care of him/herself;

  • Provide socialization and companionship.

Benefits of volunteering include:

  • Volunteers have less depression, better weight control, improved sleep and a stronger immune system;

  • Volunteers are well-rounded and learn skills they can use on the job, at home or in communicating with others;

  • Volunteering gives the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and backgrounds;

  • Volunteering shows commitment, dedication and interest and may inspire that passion in others too.

Volunteer Testimonial

“At first my mother was in complete denial, but as the result of our honest and positive communication she was willing to consider staying at home and have help come to her," says Sharee Gray. "The hospice nurses, health aides, social workers and doctors delivered the kind, caring support that my mother needed and even looked forward to, with just one rule: My mother would have to have her makeup on before they arrived. The staff always got a kick out of this and followed the rule. Today I am a volunteer for hospice doing my very best to ‘pay it forward.’”

Visit to learn more about services and volunteer opportunities. Adventist Health provides hospice services in Portland and Tillamook, Ore.

Denise Smith, Adventist Health hospice services