A Hand To Hold

By: Kate McNamara, Angela Hospice Volunteer

As she sat down to talk about her experiences as an Angela Hospice volunteer, Judi Fortuna smiled in the direction of her grandsons, seated at a nearby table in the food court.

Judi has been a volunteer at Angela Hospice for over 11 years. She works in the bereavement department making calls to family members 10 days and 15 days after their loss of a loved one to offer support and services, and most of all, to let them know she and Angela Hospice remember and care. She helps with the memorial services held at the Care Center and has worked at the Walk of Remembrance. On Friday afternoons, she’s at the Care Center helping patients with meal assistance.

Judi speaking at a memorial service.
Her face lights up at the thought of taking a patient out for some fresh air on the beautiful grounds now that warmer weather is here again.

Judi is a Patient Services Coordinator with ALS of Michigan. Her father received hospice care at the end of his life so she knew its value. Her work with ALS patients prompted her to want to learn more about hospice. So, she made her way to Angela Hospice and became a volunteer.

“It is an honor to be with people at the end of life, to help their families, to hold their hands. It‘s very humbling,” said Judi.

She commented that it’s common in our culture to be fearful of death. But, she said, “We’re all terminal. The quality of fear doesn’t need to be there.”

At Angela Hospice, she has observed what honestly and compassionately facing the issue of death can mean. She has seen families pull together. She has seen how people can “die gracefully and peacefully.”

Judi’s own family has borne the sorrow and challenges of the terminal illness of her niece, a young mother. Her time at Angela Hospice gave Judi the practical ability to be a source of help and information for her niece and their entire family. She assisted her niece with medical, emotional and spiritual issues. Experience taught her that hospice can bring peace to patients and their families and she is grateful she was able to impart that to her own.

For people unfamiliar with Angela Hospice, Judi talks about the staff and describes them as “the most compassionate, caring, understanding people. They are in the right work.”

Between her own work with ALS of Michigan and volunteering at Angela Hospice, being married to Ron, being mother to adult children Renee and Bret as well as a grandmother, Judi is happy to find time to exercise, meet with friends, entertain, and travel.

When asked if she has a motto, she doesn’t hesitate before replying: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

As she prepared to rejoin her grandsons, Judi reflected, “When I decided to volunteer, I wasn’t sure if it was right for me. But after 11 plus years, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It is so nice to know you can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Angela Hospice is blessed to have among its volunteers, Judi Fortuna, who simply says that in life, “I like to help people whatever way I can.” And she does.

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