The most gratifying part of being a volunteer for Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice (CVHHH), according to Grace Mayer, Warren, is being able to help families of people in hospice during a really stressful time.
“It’s very fulfilling for us to be able to help in that way. People are so grateful and we help take a little bit of that stress away from them,” Mayer said.
She became a volunteer for CVHHH about 10 years ago although COVID ended home visits for her for the last two years. She and her husband Don Mayer spend winters in Key West and she’ll be heading back to Vermont in a month.
“Volunteers can do a variety of things at CVHHH. You can provide administrative support for the office and you can work with patients. When you get assigned to a patient you can do anything from delivering medicine and supplies or visiting with them as a companion or visit to provide support for their primary caregivers,” Mayer explained.
Mayer worked for many years at Planned Parenthood in Waterbury and then at the Central Vermont Humane Society, then at Small Dog Electronics with her husband until she retired.
“After I was not working, it seemed like a good thing to do. I was always interested in health,” she said. She became trained as an EMT and volunteered her services for three years.
She really likes being able to work with people in The Valley and said that it is not uncommon to know the families she is helping. She said the incredible community support for CVHHH in The Valley and beyond is heartening and said the agency does great work for its communities.
“The best part of it is that I help the family members because things are so stressful for them. I thought I’d want to die at home, but I’m reconsidering that after helping others go through it. It can be so stressful for families,” she said.
“The hardest part is when you lose a patient. I get lost for words. I struggle with that,” she said, explaining that after working so closely and intimately with people, it’s hard to know what to say in the face of their loss.
“People think if you ask for hospice that you’re giving up. That is certainly not the case! I know patients went on hospice and then came off it when they went into remission or just got better. But the services they offer are so helpful at any time in end of life (or not),” she added.
When she and Don began spending winters in Key West, she found a hospice organization and volunteered there until that agency left Key West. Now there is no hospice agency in Key West, she said.
She is currently volunteering for Womankind, a women’s health practice in Key West.