Volunteer Bart Wingblad has logged the most hours of any Angela Hospice volunteer

By: Dana Casadei

When Bart Wingblad got the call for volunteer training he thought he was going to mess up and cause Angela Hospice all kinds of grief. Well, he did make someone cry.

“The first time I saw him with a patient was an ALS patient and I left the room because I got so choked up,” said Syndie Best, Director of Volunteer Services. “It was absolutely…extraordinary is the only word that comes to mind.”

Extraordinary is a word often heard when people describe Bart and all he’s done for Angela Hospice. He’s volunteered in almost every department and is up for any task. He received the Volunteer of the Year award in 2004. He’s one of the first people new volunteers meet during training, where he often stands in the back and passionately shares. Over the last 12 years the number of volunteer hours he’s acquired is, well, pretty extraordinary too.

At this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner he was met with a standing ovation when he was recognized for his lifetime hours as an Angela Hospice volunteer: 14,500 hours of service.

“I hate that they put such emphasis on hours. I never know,” Bart laughed. “The number of hours isn’t important to me.”

What is important to Bart is what he can do for patients and their families, and the kind of man Angela Hospice has helped him become.

“Before volunteering I would never take five minutes. I was always at work,” he said. “I would work day and night. I would never even consider getting off work before midnight.”

At first Bart started out small. Then he became more and more passionate about Angela Hospice, and because he was allowed to acquire the skills and confidence to do so, he became better with patients. Now he’s constantly working with patients in home care and the Care Center, among the many other things he does.

“I know in my life there won’t be anything more important than what I do here,” Bart said.

While Bart is too humble to mention any specific stories about his time volunteering, Syndie, who has known Bart for 10 years, happily shared.

Director of Volunteer Services Syndie Best and Bart
at a 2009 fundraiser for Angela Hospice.
At the 2009 Angela Hospice Light Up a Life benefit he dressed up like a scarecrow to greet guests. When the Care Center was being built, Bart had his construction crew come in and help out, with all the labor being free-of-charge. During the 2003 blackout, they needed water in the Care Center, so Bart started slugging five gallon buckets of water up and down the stairs because the only working hose was in the basement.

“I’ve got lots of volunteers who give wonderful amounts of time and energy and effort, but Bart’s in another category all by himself,” Syndie said.

“If it’s in his ability to meet a families’ or a patients’ need, he will do it, and wild horses couldn’t keep him away from it,” she continued.

For every 500 hours accrued volunteers receive a pin. Needless to say Bart has quite a few, but you won’t find them on his Angela Hospice lanyard. He keeps them in a jar and wants them all pinned on his lapel at his funeral.

“I’m going to look like a third-world country general,” he laughed. “And I want my badge going with me.”

So how long does Bart think he will be a volunteer?

“I see myself in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank still trying to lift patients,” he said.

Looks like Bart is going to need a bigger jar.

1 comment:

  1. This is so awesome. Chatham is getting a Hospice really soon. We will need some Barts here