By Alyssa Ramsfield
Knowing that a family member is only days away from death can be a painful experience. Many want to spend those last moments with their loved ones while others struggle with the idea of saying goodbye. This is an even more difficult experience for those who are in need of hospice care, but do not have a means of receiving it. That’s where Hospice Without Borders has stepped in with a new, entirely volunteer hospice care center in East Olympia.
“Amahoro House means peace,” explains Volunteer Coordinator for Hospice Without Borders, Debe Eden. “Our goal is to bring peace to our guests.” The hospice is planning to open this spring and offer care to homeless community members in need of around the clock care. “We will focus on bringing quality to the end of their lives.”
This past August, Hospice Without Borders founders, Angela Lee and David Slack, reached out to community members to support a volunteer hospice facility after a trip to help the people of Rwanda. “It began to become that the work we’re doing at the bedside was more than just about the care of the individual,” says Slack. “Rather care of the community, the work is as much about the caregiver circle as it is the dying or chronically ill individual.”
“We see hospice and palliative care as peace building,” explains Slack. “It’s all about how we encounter suffering, and vulnerability, as people prepare to leave this life. The community that creates a vehicle to meet these people are also capable of great transformation by virtue of offering simple hospitality.”
The first step to bringing that sense of peace building was to find a location and enlist a volunteer coordinator. “Volunteers have to be prepared to help our guests in every way possible,” explains Eden. An Evergreen State College graduate, Eden is dedicated to Thurston County. “I’ve lived in the Olympia community 40 years and wanted to do something to support the people living here. I worked for Providence Sound Home Care Hospice for 11 years. This was a great opportunity for me to help.”
Guests of the Amahoro House will receive excellent care from skilled volunteers. “Recruiting and training has started for care giving volunteers so we can provide 24 hour care for a person who is living without a home at the end of their life,” says Eden. “Our idea is that we will get physicians, nurses, and community members trained to provide hands-on care giving. Volunteers will provide the preparation of food, helping to get up, go outside, and giving physical assistance. It’s also important that volunteers are available to make contact with family and friends of the guests. Sixteen volunteers are being trained right now. It’s all about learning what to expect with patients, what happens at the end of life, and how to be supportive. ”
Guests of the hospice will be referred from local organizations. “Qualified individuals through hospitals, groups that serve the homeless, and community members will contact us to set up care,” describes Eden. “Our philosophy is to help one person at a time. We want the house to be a real resource for the community.”
Volunteers are a vital piece to running the Amahoro House. If you are interested in training to become a volunteer contact Debe Eden at: email@example.com.