Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy Schiffman

Nurse Paula Schrock-Bending with volunteer 
Nancy Schiffman
Name: Nancy Schiffman

How long have you been a volunteer?

Six-and-a-half years.

What areas do you work in/what tasks do you do?

Patient and family care in the Care Center, bereavement, and fundraising.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?

After my husband passed away I felt very good that I was able to do the things he had always talked about wanting to be done at his funeral. That made me feel good that I was able to do that. At first I was thinking I could help other people by helping them make sure their funeral services were what they wanted. Although I’ve never had that conversation with anybody that idea did make me start thinking about volunteering somewhere. So here I am.

Why Angela Hospice?

I’ve lived in Livonia since I was four and I watched it get built. I worked at St. Mary’s and watched the whole Angela Hospice come to what it is now. I feel like I’ve watched it grow.

Thinking back, one of my papers when I was a senior in high school was about Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross. I thought about that about three years after I started volunteering here. I heard her name in relation to Sister Giovanni’s name and I probably hadn’t even thought of her since I was in high school. It was just exciting to hear that Sister was on the same level as her, if not higher.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

Definitely talking with the families and patients. Every week that I’m here I have a conversation with somebody or I help somebody that reaffirms why I come back every time. I can safely say that happens every Wednesday night. It reaffirms why I’m here, when you can help them any way.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
Nancy with Volunteer Services Manager Syndie Best
and Angela Hospice foundress Sister Mary Giovanni
I have so many. A funny one was at an Arbor Day Ceremony and this big, old motorcycle rolls in and this guy gets off. He’s coming over to the ceremony and someone said, “Nancy, would you like to sit with him?” I look and I said, “Sure, I’ll sit with him.” Well, it turns out this big, ol’ gruff-looking motorcycle guy had taken care of his mother the last two years of her life. He had such unbelievable stories and it was his first time since he had lost her that he had talked about her. So he wound up staying for a couple hours after the ceremony and everything. We just sat and talked, and that was incredible.

But everyone at first was like, “Oh my gosh, this big, bad motorcycle guy!” And here he was this huge, phenomenal caregiver to his mother. It was just not the image that you would think of when you saw him. And to find out that was his first opportunity to talk about his mother since she had died, with anybody…I felt very honored with that. I was at the right place, at the right time, which happens with a lot of our families here. It’s just incredible to have the opportunity to talk with people when the timing is right.

I find that too with the fundraising that I’ve gotten involved in. As you go out into the community, and just mention the Angela Hospice name, it’s amazing how generous businesses are. I never, ever thought I would get into anything like fundraising. It’s so easily accomplished when you go in there with your Angela Hospice badge on, and it literally just sells itself. And people start talking then too.

It’s gotten me involved with a lot more things than I ever thought I would in my life. As far as visiting with the families and stuff like that I’ve always worked in healthcare but I’ve always been in the paperwork end of things with admissions and billing and things like that. My family’s kind of medical and having always worked in the hospital setting like that it just feels comfortable.

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