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VOLUNTEERISM KEY TO AGING WELL

Fri, Aug 23rd 2013 04:00 pm
Niagara Hospice volunteer Lance Scarafia (left) reminisces about the big band era with Hospice at Jeanne's House resident Joe Cote.
Niagara Hospice volunteer Lance Scarafia (left) reminisces about the big band era with Hospice at Jeanne's House resident Joe Cote.

In recent years there has been a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides not only new social opportunities but also individual health benefits. This research, presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in a report titled The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

Some of the findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a "considerable" amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes. The first and biggest benefit many people get from volunteering may be the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community. Personal benefits such as pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment are worthwhile reasons to serve. But volunteers who share their time and talents also solve problems, strengthen communities, improve lives and connect to others while often transforming their own lives.

Niagara Hospice volunteer Lance Scarafia completed his training last spring to become a care ministry volunteer at Hospice at Jeanne's House - A Northgate and Niagara Hospice Collaboration. Scarafia said, "This honor to serve and help the residents has been a life changing chapter in my life. The people, staff and just the dedication that's put into everyday services is short of a miracle to me." Still an active member of the workforce, Scarafia is only able to visit once a week but is still making a big difference in the life of each resident he is able to meet. Most recently Scarafia has been a regular visitor of Al "Joe" Cote. Joe is the founder of the Niagara County Fiddler's Club. The Club recently honored Joe with a special performance set up by Northgate activities leader Kim Mitchell. Cote and Scarafia are both accomplished musicians with plenty to talk about each week.

"Because some of our volunteers still work or simply have very busy lives, they are only able to give an hour or two a week of service - but that gift of time means the world to the patients they visit," says Niagara Hospice director of marketing & public relations, Tricia Degan. "That's why we have launched The Power of One campaign, to let working and busy people know we do have a place and a need for them. Just one hour a week can change a life, and it may be their own."

Niagara Hospice is continuing to grow the number of volunteer services the organization provides to hospice patients through The Power of One campaign. Aimed at recruiting dedicated and compassionate individuals looking for fulfilling volunteer experiences that truly make a difference, the campaign illustrates how one hour a week from one volunteer can result in many lives changed, including that of the volunteer. Degan said volunteers are especially needed in the evening hours and on weekends. Both patient related and non-patient related volunteer opportunities are available.

The Niagara Hospice Alliance announced several new volunteer training sessions for individuals interested in making a difference in the lives of Niagara County residents. The first training will be held at 5-9:00pm on September 24 and 25 at Northgate Health Care Facility, 7264 Nash Road, North Tonawanda. Anyone interested in registering should call the Niagara Hospice Alliance at 280-0748 by September 20. An additional session is scheduled for October 15 and 16, and a 1-day Saturday training is scheduled for November 16 at 9:00am - 5:00pm. For more information and to register for any of the sessions, call 280-0748.

American writer and educator, Leo Buscaglia, wrote: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." If you want to experience the health benefits and joy of volunteering, call the Niagara Hospice Alliance at 280-0748 or e-mail info@NHAlliance.com

Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life comfort, care and support since 1988 to over 20,000 Niagara County individuals and families faced with serious illness. No one is ever denied hospice care due to ability to pay. For more information, visit www.NiagaraHospice.org or call 716-439-4417.

 

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