One makes the mistake of thinking one is giving,
when in fact, one is receiving.
Type of Volunteer:
Vigil and community-outreach
Where is your hometown?
In what place have you lived the longest?
What is your favorite place that you’ve lived or visited?
What convinced you to move to the Lowcountry?
A very special widower
What is your current occupation? If you are retired, what was your past career?
Forty years in the real estate business
What are three of your favorite hobbies?
Theater, reading, and golf
What is your most memorable moment in volunteering with HCL?
Realizing what a privilege it is to help dying patients and their families. One makes the mistake of thinking one is giving, when in fact, one is receiving.
Who is your most memorable patient?
Impossible to answer
What have you learned in your experience volunteering with hospice?
I have learned how much death is a part of life, that through all the hustle, bustle, and plastic lifestyles we succumb to, what is important most is kindness. Kindness keeps your heart healthy.
What inspired you to volunteer with HCL?
Dissatisfaction with the way members of my family died as well as experiencing the dying process in third-world countries. Then discovering a path to alleviate distress and pain through the gifts that hospice brings.
Do you volunteer with other nonprofits in the area?
Yes – Breast Cancer programs.
What is your happiest or most rewarding volunteering story?
One day I was with an elderly woman who was dying in a facility all by herself in a small room with nothing but a religious picture on the wall and an oxygen tank. It upset me that her family can in for just a few minute, and then hurriedly left. I was not prepared to stay all night and once home, slept restlessly. The next day I mentioned to Maggie (Volunteer Coordinator) how distressed I was that Mrs. B should be dying by herself. But, Maggie changed my thinking.
She said, “Ale, Mrs. B is not alone; God is with her.”
That’s my favorite story and it works regardless of one’s beliefs. It helps me leave a patient when my time is up.
What is your favorite part of volunteering with hospice?
Being around other hospice volunteers and workers and participating in teamwork. Our mission needs no discussion. I also love the last hugs survivors extend to us when our work is done.
How does HCL’s mission inspire you?
I have been fortunate to be inspired to create a program called “Death Matters” that explores options for end-of-life care. Living our lives is so much more comfortable if we can converse openly about our mortality. I wish my friends and family would take the risk of discussing death long before it happens. I feel conveying this message is a major mission for me.
What skills make you a better volunteer?
My career in real estate required good speaking skills, clear communication skills, and persistence, wrapped in perennial optimism.
What do you wish people knew about HCL?
I wish people to know that hospice care itself is nothing to fear – rather just the opposite – it delivers comfort in large packages. HCL is a non-profit hospice and will turn no one down when help is requested. The directors and staff have spent many years developing associated programs to help with all aspects of illness, death, and grief. Knowledge about HCL should encourage anyone to turn to just this one source when serious or terminal illness strikes. HCL also offers the unintentional opportunity for everyone it touches to embrace the freedom of a forgiving life. I also love the atmosphere in the office.
How has being a hospice volunteer changed your outlook on life?
Being a volunteer at HCL has helped me in all my other relationships in life. I am more patient, more receptive, and more caring since becoming a hospice volunteer. It’s a wonderful, fearless feeling.
What is your most irrational fear?
That I will fall through the glass to the floor below if I walk on a glass floor.
What age would you choose to be permanently? Why?
Why go backward to a permanent age and miss all the joys of living beyond that date? Nope, no permanent age for me.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I would love to be able to tap every dying person on the shoulder and totally end their pain. Just with the touch of my finger…
What is something you would never do again?
I would never marry the man my parents thought I should marry.
Would you rather live a week in the past or in the future?
What is something you wish you could’ve told yourself ten years ago?
My Dad used to tell me to stop being so “cock-sure” of myself. I wish I could have believed him sooner.
What do you think you will want to tell yourself ten years from now?
“WOW! Made it to 87!”
What would you want your last words to be?
“Thank you for this life.”