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Robert Schmitz

BJC Hospice volunteers give from the heart

If you have the time, BJC Hospice has the volunteer opportunity.

Adult and teen volunteers are always needed to help with everything from visiting patients to providing office support to making blankets. No special skills are required, and volunteers receive training and guidance every step of the way.

If you do have a special skill, however, BJC Hospice can probably find a way to put it to use. Here’s how some past and present volunteers have found ways to serve:

Creating cherished gifts from hospice patients’ clothing

Ann Miller, a BJC Hospice volunteer for the past three years, sews special teddy bears, pillows and quilts from hospice patients’ clothing — creating gifts that are cherished by the patients’ loved ones.

Miller says it gives her an opportunity to use her skills to serve and to comfort grieving families at their time of loss. And it lets her be a part of something bigger than herself.

“You can make a difference at a time when our world needs a change, and love can create a movement,” Miller says. “Do it for others, and you do it for yourself.”

Making patients look good — and feel better

With 35 years of experience, hairstylist and make-up artist Tony Pringle knows how to make people look good. He also knows that making people look good often makes them feel better.

Pringle has been donating haircuts to hospice patients for more than five years, and for him, volunteering has become a way of life.

“I encourage others to volunteer,” he says. “It’s a very rewarding experience. We get more out of it than we give.”

Offering smiles through pet therapy

For volunteer Amber Auslander, it seemed like a natural fit to bring her dog, Williamina, along to visit with patients. “Williamina is such a sweet and loving dog, and was a hit with all my friends, family and neighbors, which intrigued me to have her trained and registered as a therapy dog,” says Auslander.

Patients’ faces light up when Williamina walks into the room. “Patients reminiscence and tell us about their life and pets they’ve had throughout the years,” Auslander says. “We learn about different jobs people have, love stories and life experiences when we visit patients and their families.”

Videographer crafts music and videos for hospice families

Tom Reina became familiar with BJC hospice when each of his parents became a hospice patient. As the primary family caregiver, he quickly learned the value of hospice.

A BJC Hospice volunteer since 2008, he’s volunteered in almost every capacity available — visiting patients in their homes and care facilities; providing caregiver relief and running errands; moving furniture, doing yard work, and providing patient and family transportation; providing BJC Hospice office support and working at fund-raising events; and volunteering with the BJC Hospice programs Passage, Lumina, Stepping Stones and Joyful Celebrations.

Through the Lumina life review program, Reina uses his videography skills to tell hospice patients’ stories. Lumina offers both adult and pediatric patients the opportunity to preserve the stories and experiences that define their lives and is offered free of charge through BJC Hospice and the Wings program.

“It is tremendously rewarding to help others during this extremely emotional, stressful period of their lives,” says Reina. “We all know that death is inevitable, but we are not prepared when faced with it. The hospice professionals and volunteers help patients and their families with the experience of dying. Frequently, we’re able to reduce some of the anxiety and improve the quality of life during the final days, weeks and months.”

How can I help BJC Hospice?

There are many ways to volunteer for BJC Hospice, including:

  • visiting patients
  • caregiver relief
  • companionship
  • child care
  • running errands
  • housekeeping
  • cooking
  • yard work or home maintenance
  • office support
  • Evelyn’s House front desk

Specialty skill volunteers provide such services as:

  • manicures
  • hairstyling services
  • pet therapy
  • massage therapy
  • Healing Touch
  • Reiki
  • spiritual support
  • music support
  • flower arranging
  • piano playing

Other volunteer opportunities include:

  • junior volunteers, including individuals and school-supported clubs
  • U.S. military veteran volunteers
  • Lumina life review volunteers
  • Passage volunteers present for a patient’s final hours
  • bereavement/grief support, including camps and retreats
  • Samantha’s Gift — making crafts
  • volunteer groups making a meal for Evelyn’s House patients and visitors
  • community outreach
  • holiday decorating
  • event and fund-raising support

Apply to be a BJC Hospice volunteer online,, or call Mary Lindsley, 314-953-1671.

Or, if you don’t have time to volunteer, but would like to support BJC Hospice, you can make donations to support programs or donate gift cards to local grocery and retail stores that can be used to support families in need. Donations of gift cards to arts and crafts stores also support the Lumina program in buying materials to make books, letters, videos, art pieces and memory pillows/bears/blankets.

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