Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Bartha

Name: Karen Bartha

How long have you been a volunteer?
Three years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do?
Patient and spiritual care in the Care Center and in home care.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I had heard about a program called No One Dies Alone that’s in hospitals, and I was shocked at the concept that anybody ever died alone. So I started looking into it in the area where I lived and there were no hospitals with that program and I thought, wait, what about hospice? That’s really what brought me here. I’ve always loved the elderly.

Why Angela Hospice?
We were new to the area so I didn’t really know the hospitals. When I found out there was no No One Dies Alone program in a place near me I called my parish church and asked if we were affiliated with anything and they said no, but the woman I talked to mentioned Angela Hospice.

I looked into it online and thought that’s what I want to do. One of the things that was most interesting to me is that on the first day I came here for my interview, I was walking down the hall and I thought, I’ve come home. It just felt like home. I know that’s really strange to come into a hospice and think, I’ve come home. But I feel like this is what God always was getting me toward, doing this. This place is a sacred place. It’s the love of the people.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Being with the patients, that’s really it.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There have been so, so many. One was with a patient who was fairly blind and fairly deaf. I went into her room. I think I had read on the white board that she really liked to have her hand held, so I said, “I’ll come sit with you if you like.”

She said, “Oh, yes.”

Then I said, “I’ll just need to sit down first.”

And she said, “You’ll need to adjust your wings?”

She thought I was an angel and I needed to adjust my wings to sit down.

The one that I think is really the best story about this place is a little bit longer.

I was in the Care Center, and was asked to do a drop-off at a patient’s house on my way home after my shift with a home care patient. Something delayed me there, so I was even later getting to this drop-off. I got to the drop-off and there’s a woman there, and she started talking. I said, “Would you like me to step in and visit with you a bit?” She never really answered but she just kept talking. Then I stepped in and she went and sat down in the living room.

The other family members were out at the funeral home so she was alone, and kind of didn’t know what to do. She wasn’t used to hospice. So she sat down and I’m standing there in my winter coat and I said, “Would you like me to sit down and visit with you? I have the time.” And she never answered again but kept talking. Then I went in and sat down.

While I was there, her father’s breathing started to fail. Then he did die, right then and there.

So what do we do? Call Angela Hospice. We do that and they tell us they are sending a nurse. I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her until somebody got there and she said yes. Then we try to call the mother, who was determined to be there when her husband died and would not go out, wouldn’t do anything. This went on for so long. Then the nurse and family got there. I stayed awhile more and then left.

The point of the story is that if I had not been delayed I wouldn’t have been there when she needed someone. God made sure I was there at the time I was needed. I should’ve never been there at that time. It was so clear that God had orchestrated my other patient in such a way that I was there long after I should’ve been. Even if he hadn’t died she really, really needed someone at that time.

One of the most amazing things is when you see God working through you. I didn’t do anything. But to see God’s hand putting you where you need to be at that specific time... I was meant to be there and it was none of my own doing. God made sure that that woman was not alone.

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