Our Stories: Volunteers

An interview with Christopher A.

Christopher

Christopher A.

“Even though COVID has made things virtual for the time being, the connections I am making with patients are real and through interactions like these, I am able to feel the joy that can be provided to patients with just a 30-minute phone call.”

Q: How long have you been a volunteer at Calvary and how many days/hours do you work with patients?

A: I started volunteering at Calvary in December 2020. During COVID, with my current status as a full-time college student, my schedule at Calvary has been variable. During the winter, when I was on break from school, I would spend 4-5 hours a day 2-3 times per week doing mainly administrative tasks. In recent months I have been reaching out to patients over the phone twice a week to provide emotional and social support. I have spent 1-2 hours a week on clinical calls, with an additional couple of hours being spent on administrative projects.

Q: What made you decide to become a volunteer at Calvary?

A: My younger sister is a dancer and performed for patients at Calvary a couple of years ago. That is what initially made me aware of Calvary. I am currently a pre-med student and am interested in helping patients with different backgrounds and conditions. While stuck at home during the beginning of quarantine, I had the idea that volunteering at a hospice could be something I really enjoyed, so I reached out to Calvary. A couple of months later, with COVID a little more under control, I was able to be screened and officially start as a volunteer and have been with Calvary ever since.

Q: How has volunteering helped you in your personal life/career?

A: Volunteering with Calvary has helped me grow in my ability to treat all patients with compassion and an open mind which will help me in my future career as a doctor tremendously. In the very limited time I’ve been a volunteer at Calvary, I have had the opportunity to connect with both patients, employees, and other volunteers, all coming from different walks of life. I’ve been able to break out of my comfort zone to form meaningful connections, this has been an incredibly positive experience.

I cannot wait to continue serving patients as a volunteer at Calvary and learning more about how to provide the care someone needs. I feel this will help me in not only my medical career but in my personal life to be a good peer, husband, mentor and friend.

Q: Tell us a memorable experience you’ve had as a volunteer with us.
A: One of the patients I speak with over the phone has dementia. It has been an amazing growth experience for me to find ways to support this patient with enjoyable conversation when at times it can be hard for him to remember what exactly we are talking about. While at times the patient may ask me the same question three times throughout a single conversation, he never ceases to amaze me with the things he is still capable of remembering.

With the help of his wife, I was able to learn some of this patient’s major interests. This knowledge has allowed me to ask questions that can unlock a world of stories of the patient’s past. To some questions, I can hear him cheer up as if my probing reminded him of some pleasant memory he has from years prior.

Once, after a long conversation about the patient’s history of mineral collecting, I informed him that this spring the Natural History Museum would be opening up a new hall dedicated to gems and minerals. With a serious tone, the patient responded, “I would like to visit that exhibit with you one day, Chris.”

I have never met this man in person, but the bond we share from our twice-weekly interactions has become a genuine friendship. It is moments like these that make volunteering with Calvary so special. Even though COVID has made things virtual for the time being, the connections I am making with patients are real and through interactions like these, I am able to feel the joy that can be provided to patients with just a 30-minute phone call.

To learn more about how you can become a volunteer, visit:
www.calvaryhospital.org/ways-to-give/creative-ways-to-give/volunteer/

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