The 13th annual Ringing in the Season holiday handbell concert was presented Dec. 1 at the First Congregational Church of Camden. Local handbell choirs, Choral Bells and Penobscot Bay Ringers, were joined by handbell soloists Debra Hall, Nathan Hillman and, Emily Emmott; and singers from the Midcoast Community Chorus Chorale. The near capacity audience provided donations totaling $1,700 in support of the volunteer program at Sussman House.

Sussman House, located on the Pen Bay Medical Center campus in Rockport, provides state-of-the-art pain and symptom management in a tranquil, home-like setting. Program services are managed through MaineHealth Care At Home, with the goal to improve the quality of life at the end of life by offering comfort and care in a supportive environment.

Direct care volunteers provide companionship and support to hospice patients and their families. They are present as a friend or family member might be — reading out loud, running an errand or just being there listening, laughing, crying, holding hands. Volunteers complete a 30-hour orientation/training program coordinated by Coastal Family Hospice Volunteers.

While Sussman House support volunteers do not have direct patient interaction, they do all the things that make the Sussman House feel like home including welcoming visitors, baking, cooking, gardening, answering the phone, performing light office work and helping with special events.

Since Sussman House opened its doors in December 2014, volunteers have logged 14,500 hours of service there. More than 100 volunteers have completed the training program; and there currently are 45 to 50 active volunteers serving at Sussman House. To find out more about the support volunteer program, call (800) 660-4867.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.