Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Eliza and her husband Tom shared a room at the nursing home.
Whenever Crossroads Hospice volunteer Jim Tschirhart paid her a visit, he always made a point of telling her how beautiful she looked. On this particular day, she was getting ready for a birthday party and he helped her put on a special necklace.
“Now, you look more beautiful than ever,” Jim told her.
From across the room, Tom remarked, “Does your wife know you talk to my wife like that?”
“She sure does,” Jim replied with a smile. “She knows I’m just trying to make Liza feel better.”
Not only did she know, but Gwen was busy with her own volunteer visits, trying to make her patients feel better, too.
Jim and Gwen Tschirhart have been Crossroads volunteers for the past four years. Every Tuesday, like clockwork, they make their visits, providing much-needed companionship and giving families a break from being caregivers.
“It can be a saving grace for them,” says Gwen. “They get an hour or two to themselves where they don’t have to worry.”
Jim and Gwen didn’t know much about hospice when they started volunteering. A friend had recently been diagnosed with cancer and her illness progressed quickly. When Crossroads began to care for her, they learned more about the many services hospice offered and asked how they could help.
Since then, they’ve visited over a dozen patients. Some only a few times, others have been on Crossroads service for much longer. Gwen recently lost a patient who had been with our service for three years; Jim has lost three patients he volunteered with in the past few months.
“It’s a kick in the stomach when they pass. It’s best if you can keep a distance,” Jim advises, but then goes on to acknowledge, “Sometimes it’s just not possible. You become friends.”
Gwen agrees, saying, “The families and patients come to love us as much as we love them.”
In April, Jim and Gwen were named the co-winners of the Volunteer of the Quarter Award at our Dayton, OH location. But it’s really Crossroads and our patients who win every Tuesday when Jim and Gwen set out to make their visits.