May 08, 2019

February 2017 - This story began when Sharon was referred to Sandy, coordinator of the Hospice Palliative Care Program at Southern Frontenac Community Services. When Sandy met Sharon and her husband Dale, Sharon had been struggling with COPD since 2005 and her shortness of breath was increasing to the point where she needed constant oxygen. Despite the oxygen, her shortness of breath was worse with any exertion. Whenever Dale had to leave the home Sharon became anxious and that caused more difficult breathing.

Sandy offered to match her with a volunteer who could provide some companionship for Sharon, someone other than family or health care workers. Sharon thought that having a volunteer would be a good option to explore, her husband Dale was open to the program, so a volunteer was selected to visit with Sharon.

“I didn’t know what to expect at the beginning,” said Sharon.

Once Sharon and Kari met, it was clear that they were going to become friends. They were comfortable with each other right away.

Kari recalled: “At our first meeting, we made a list of things we could do together to fill the time when I would be visiting.” The list included many things, such as watching movies, playing cards, going to Bingo, and “helping with small tasks around the house.” Kari even coloured Sharon’s hair! This was a first for Kari. Sharon quickly came to look forward to Kari’s visits.

The pair reviewed that list when they were approached for this article: Kari and Sharon laughed when they looked at the “to do” list of activities. They realized they had accomplished a lot! They have done many things over the two years, and sometimes they sit and talk, depending on Sharon’s energy level. “Kari is always so flexible. She is willing to help with whatever I need.” There have been times when Dale has been away and Kari makes extra visits to help alleviate Sharon’s anxiety.

“Kari has had a great impact on my life. Her visits are something to look forward to, different from family. She has become a really good friend. I didn’t expect that; we are a really good match. I would absolutely recommend the program to anyone.”

Kari echoed Sharon’s sentiments about the surprise of warm friendship, “That aspect is a real bonus. I knew what COPD was but I have learned about the impact it has on a person’s life. Volunteering with the Hospice Palliative Program is so incredibly rewarding. I would recommend it to anybody who wants to make a difference in another person’s life and get the benefits from helping.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from this service, or if you would like to become a volunteer, please connect with Sandy at SFCSC for more details.

613-376-6477 (ext. 308)

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