In honor of April being National Volunteer Appreciation Month, Home Health United is spotlighting one of their longest-standing Hospice volunteers: Marian DeGiovanni. Marian has been a volunteer for Home Health United – Hospice since 1988 – that’s 25 years!
A Registered Nurse by profession, Marian recognized the blessing it was to have the appropriate home care available when her parents passed.
"I was blessed to be with both my parents when they died, my dad at age 80 and my mom at age 93. Â Both were comforted by the home setting and their journey was peaceful. With the team approach of physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, spiritual counselors, volunteers and bereavement support, the patient and family are assured of pain control, symptom management and support just a phone call away."
Obviously a true believer of the benefits of hospice services, Marian now enjoys helping provide the supportive care volunteers offer.
"My favorite part of volunteering is supporting the patient and family.Â Some connections have been brief, just a visit or two, and others have been over eight months. I wish I had kept a journal from the start, but a favorite memory is one of my first families, a wonderful couple, married over 62 years.Â When I arrived the wife had fixed a bowl of oatmeal and toast with jam for her frail husband. I sat by him to help while she went out to run errands, but not before giving him a kiss on his cheek. Since it was a beautiful summer morning I helped him outside to enjoy the birdsong, sunshine, and a few neighbors who stopped over. Nothing momentous, but the bond between the couple was so wonderful to witness."
Marian and her husband Dr. John DeGiovanni, the HHU – Hospice Medical Director who practices at Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital, now have their grandchildren nearby to help occupy their time, which prevents Marian from volunteering as much as she used to.
But she’s never strayed far from the HHU – Hospice program; Marian stays current with annual in-services, and then there’s Watson.
"Watson theÂ 20 pound cat was entrusted to us when my husband Tony (Dr. DeGiovanni) made a home visit and shared with me that the patient’s main concern was her cat! Tony consulted me first and then later brought Watson home, where he fits in with the pug, the other cat, and our four grandkids! I made sure Watson’s owner received a Valentine card with a picture of Watson and Tony, assuring her that Watson was so handsome and a wonderful addition! So I guess in a way I am still an "˜active’ volunteer, although I did not need special training to cuddle a cat!"
Marian closes by adding, "my mom had a favorite saying: "˜The heart makes a record of every shining thing and plays it back like music through the years.’ As a volunteer I have been blessed by meeting so many hospice families whose love shines through, especially while sharing the final earthly journey."
To learn more about hospice volunteering, please visit the Hospice Volunteer page or call 1-877-356-4514.