Volunteer Spotlight: Hospice Hospitality
When staff and volunteers are introduced to hospice, they learn the root for the word hospice is hospitium, which is Latin for an inn or lodging. It’s the same root as hospitality. And it’s clear why: the comfort of home -- and compassion -- are what makes a great hospice staff or volunteer.
For two volunteers at the Kansas City, MO Crossroads Hospice, hospitality is what they’re all about, making them perfect fits for our patients. Hospitality is how they live their lives. It’s who they are.
Mel and Kathy Lyon joined Crossroads Hospice in 2011. Serving primarily patients in long-term care, they are a team. “They love on their patients", is how the their service has been described. Gently rubbing the shoulders of a patient; singing a favorite hymn; taking the time to catch up with the patient; saying a simple prayer; and acting as a gentle voice of advocacy to ensure the patient has what they need from the staff at the facility. In some ways, Mel and Kathy adopt these patients, bringing them into their circle of family.
Mel and Kathy have a large family. They have had seven children themselves, however, their circle stretches so wide and far, family takes on a whole new meaning. They’re a couple who not only visit two hospice patients at a Kansas City, MO nursing facility, but they go to at least three other facilities to visit residents. The other seniors they have embraced are not hospice patients, but are people they met while visiting their patients, who have since died. If they see a lonely, sad, needy person while they are doing their hospice visits, they stop in and bring sunshine into that person's world, too.
Mel and Kathy are service-oriented people. Their church is a recipient of their volunteer time and energy each week, maybe closer to daily. Beyond stopping in and checking on all these seniors in nursing facilities, they are known to travel around Kansas City each week delivering meals to those they hear are ill or in a caregiving role, those who are alone or needy. They have even frozen meals and driven them to St. Louis!
You can find them helping those who are sick or undergoing treatment, by picking up their laundry and returning it freshly cleaned and folded. There are always cards to get out for "family" members’ birthdays, thank yous or to those who need words of encouragement.
Currently, the Mel and Kathy visit two Crossroads patients. Beyond the loving gestures mentioned above, they have brought choir members in to sing to both of these ladies on several occasions. Homemade cookies make their way into the room on occasion too, and smiles abound.
This past Christmas, one patient got fuzzy pajamas and a warm robe. She would not take the robe off! The other got a snuggly fleece throw. The two patients Mel and Kathy see each week have recently shown some significant decline. One has hit that stage of almost being unable to communicate, is less oriented and sleeps more. It is a hard stage for some volunteers who don’t understand the importance of their presence. Mel and Kathy will be in there until the end, loving on these two, bringing comfort and shedding a tear.
Mel and Kathy Lyon are the spirit of what hospice has been about since the medieval times; providing shelter, rest and “loving” on the weary and ill they come to meet.
If you would like to volunteer, please visit our Volunteer Application form or call us at 888-564-3405.