Paid in Smiles

By: Kate McNamara, Angela Hospice Volunteer

Angela Hospice volunteer Maureen Hassien is a rare one in our “look at me” culture. She is not one to seek the spotlight. In fact, she shared that most people in her life did not even know she volunteered for several years. Considering how much she does at Angela Hospice, this is a hard feat to imagine. But, as she emphatically explained, her work at Angela Hospice “is not about me.”

Maureen with Volunteer Services Manager, Syndie Best,
at last fall's Light Up a Life gala.
Maureen began volunteering at Angela Hospice in 1997. Since that date she has used her time and formidable talents in countless ways to bless the patients and families in our care. She is a beautician by trade and shares her talent for hair care with patients at the Care Center and in home care. She tells her patients who cannot believe they don’t have to pay her, “all I charge is a smile.” She has participated in the high tea for nine years and the Wednesday night caregiver supper for over 10 years. She has helped with events including the bereavement department memorials, the Walk of Remembrance, Arbor Day, and the Tree of Life. She has done direct patient care and has also mentored new volunteers.

She says, “It gives me purpose, a direction. It’s a commitment to go and help in whatever way I can.” She smiles as she says, “When I get a smile after a haircut, I say to myself, this is why I’m here.”

When she’s holding a patient’s hand and they thank her, she says it makes her think, “They thank me? Really?” It strikes her that way because she knows from experience “supposedly you’re helping them but in a way they’re helping you.”

Maureen says she’s learned a lot in her 18 years at Angela Hospice. She said, “I’ve had deaths in the family of course during this time. It makes you realize how life is short...so live the day.”

She’s also found that “you get more compassionate when you use your own experiences to help others without sharing the details of your own story.” Words of wisdom from someone who knows “it’s not about me.”

For people who don’t know much about Angela Hospice, she would tell them, “Don’t be fearful of hospice. It’s a journey we’re all on. It’s not about giving up. It’s helping the dying live their life. And the family members too. You can share the end of life with them.”

Maureen said Angela Hospice is a great place to volunteer. There are many opportunities to help, even for those who may not want to do patient care.

“Sometimes it may be hard to find your niche but be patient and you’ll find your spot,” she said. (Or in her case, spots.)

“I enjoy all my volunteering and all the challenges that have come,” Maureen said. “I’m grateful for what it’s allowed me to do.”

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