VNA needs volunteers

Those who are interested in volunteering for the Visiting Nurse Association's hospice team are invited to attend a tea to be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at the VNA conference room.

Sandy Beran, who is the volunteer coordinator for the VNA, said the tea will give a chance for those who are interested to talk, ask questions and meet the VNA's hospice team.

Beran, who also is the spiritual care coordinator and the bereavement coordinator for the VNA, said the VNA would like to get group of 10 volunteers to attend the 20 hours of training which is required to work with clients and the families of those clients.

Beran said the training received by volunteers is offered for free and is recognized by hospices throughout the country. The VNA does ask that volunteers be available for a year of service at their convenience.

After the training, Beran said, volunteers become members of the hospice team. They might be asked to stay with a client to relieve the client's primary care giver, run errands for the family, help with household chores or read to a client.

Beran said some volunteers have been able to sit and listen as clients reminisce about the times of their lives. Some volunteers have even been given permission to document those memories so the family has them.

Beran said to be a volunteer one should be interested in exploring his or her own values and his or her own feelings of death and dying.

Volunteers might be able to assist in conducting bereavement and grief classes for the families. Beran said hospices try to offer bereavement services for families that want those services up to 13 months after a loved one has died.

Volunteers are not only vital to the hospice team but they play an important role through VNA programs, said Carol Sharp, eligibility technician.

"They've been, for me, saving me from going crazy," Sharp said.

Sharp's program is children insurance, which includes Medicaid. She alone manages cases for five counties that have an estimated 1,800 children.

The program used to cover Moffat and Routt counties but because of state budget cuts, it has been expanded to cover Moffat, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Rio Blanco counties.

Because of this expanded regional role, Sharp calls her volunteers "crucial." Those volunteers working for Sharp do data input, filing, sending out letters, organizing contacts for Sharp so she knows when contacts have be made.

"I try to get volunteers assigned to specific areas, such as one to the front office, another to the Women, Infant, Children program, and another to help with Medicaid," Sharp said.

Some volunteers help with interagency collaborations such as the Thanksgiving basket program, the Christmas Wish List program and as a liaison with the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition.

"In order to meet the needs of the community, we need these volunteers," Sharp said.

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