Coastal Family Hospice honors volunteers

May 13, 2014
Pat Renn recalls 25 rewarding years as a hospice volunteer.

Coastal Family Hospice Volunteers and Kno-Wal-Lin Hospice held its annual volunteer appreciation luncheon May 7 at Craignair Inn in Spruce Head.

More than 35 CFHV volunteers and board members gathered to enjoy the lunch and a program designed to inspire their work with hospice patients and families throughout the Midcoast area.

The featured speaker was Pat Renn, a former psychiatric social worker who has been a hospice volunteer for more than 25 years. Of her long experience with hospice work, Renn said, “The learning process just keeps going. The role of the hospice volunteer has changed over the years, but the quiet support and caring doesn’t change a bit.”

Renn spoke of the many roles she has played with the more than 100 patients and families she has worked with over the years. She pointed out that a volunteer must be open-minded and flexible enough to respond to the specific needs and interests of the patient. “When you ask what’s needed, you get some surprising answers sometimes,” she said. She described how she has spent time with children who are too small to go to a beloved parent’s memorial service, has helped family members clean out a home after a death, and has sometimes just sat quietly with a patient who is exhausted from the rigors of round-the-clock health care.

Looking back over her quarter-century of hospice work, and certainly speaking for the other volunteers present, she said, “I feel privileged to have had such rich experiences and meaningful relationships with so many local families.”

The volunteers also received an update on the progress of the Sussman House, the hospice facility currently under construction on the campus of Pen Bay Medical Center. Heidi McCaffrey, Kno-Wal-Lin’s director of hospice and palliative care, reported that the seven-bed house, a state-of-the art medical facility with a homelike atmosphere, will be ready for its first patients by the middle of September 2014.

Coastal Family Hospice, founded in 1979, works with Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice to provide volunteer support for its hospice patients and their families in Knox and Lincoln counties.

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