Volunteer Spotlight: Joyce Doyle

Name: Joyce Doyle

How long have you been a volunteer?
About a year.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
My mom was here [at the Angela Hospice Care Center]. She passed away in January 2014 and I just thought it was such a great sanctuary for people to be.

Joyce volunteers in the Angela Hospice Care Center.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
Learning from the patients.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There is a patient here, he says very little, but there are some times when he reacts, and the most he’s ever said to me is “Howdy!” But if I take his picture from when he was in the Air Force and I show it to him, he laughs and laughs. He’s adorable.

Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Judd

Name: Beth Judd

How long have you been a volunteer?
Three years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Care Center and spiritual care.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
My mom passed away, and I was with her when she passed, and it was a very profound, beautiful experience for me. It was sad, but it was so moving. I knew that I wanted to be able to bring some comfort to people because to me it wasn’t just sad, it was very spiritual.

Why Angela Hospice?
Because Angela's is in Livonia and I live in Livonia. That’s how I got here.

Beth often volunteers in spiritual care.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
How rewarding it is. To be able to give someone comfort is the most rewarding experience you can have, and it’s such a beautiful environment here.

At a time when people feel that they couldn’t possibly find comfort, if you’re able to do that, that’s the best gift of all.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There was a gentleman who was transitioning, and he was on my list for spiritual care. I went in and he was unconscious. He wasn’t able to communicate with me. I leaned over in his ear and I whispered to him and soothed him. I stayed with him for a half an hour. When I would stop he would start to moan or thrash again but when I would say, “Shh, you’re OK. I’m gonna stay with you,” he would calm down. It was a wonderful feeling.

He had family, they just weren’t here, and he was cared for. He was clean. All I could think of was, 'what if that was my loved one?' and they were having a difficult time, and somebody came in and calmed them. I would want that for my loved one. It was just a great experience for me.

Benefactor Spotlight: The Riley Foundation

The Riley Foundation was honored
at last year’s Light Up a Life Gala.
We are so deeply grateful for the continued support of The Riley Foundation as the elite “HOST” sponsor for this week’s Light Up A Life benefit dinner. For those who are unfamiliar with the longstanding relationship between Mr. George Riley and Angela Hospice please read below.

George Riley’s history with the Felician Sisters did not begin with Angela Hospice. It extends back to his childhood. His father, Frank Riley, worked as chief engineer for the Sisters for 36 years. Mr. Riley has many fond memories of growing up on the Felician grounds, where his family lived in a house still known today as “The Riley House.”

Mr. Riley went on to serve four years in Navy Aviation, before opening a television repair shop in the 1950s. One of George’s first projects was to wire Detroit public school classrooms for DPTV Channel 56’s educational programming.

As time went on, Mr. Riley’s small shop grew into a staff of over 500 and eventually became Clover Technologies, Inc. In 1998, Mr. Riley sold Clover Technologies to Ameritech, but he retained the Wixom building which housed his world headquarters, eventually selling it to Channel 56 in 2005. Things came full circle for George, when after a generous donation to Channel 56, they dubbed their broadcast center “The Riley Broadcast Center.”

The Riley Foundation’s guests
at an Angela Hospice event. 
George married his late wife Dolores in 1952. They had six children together, Daniel, Gary (deceased), George Jr., Michael (deceased), William and Kimberly.

With their generous natures, the Rileys have found fulfillment in helping others through contributions to health and educational causes. They have a special interest in Angela Hospice, as George’s wife Dolores and both of his parents received Angela Hospice’s care.

That’s A Wrap

While guests view the auction and raffle baskets at this Friday’s Light Up a Life Gala, two volunteers will be taking a much deserved break.

Carolyn Arlen and Kate Uberti have spent countless hours in the basement of Angela Hospice putting those baskets together over the last few weeks: making sure every item is showcased, double-checking that auction items won’t fall out when the basket is picked up, and using the right colors so nothing clashes.

Kate Uberti (left) and Carolyn Arlen (right) have spent
the last few weeks creating dozens of baskets.
“They not only have to look pretty but they have to be ergonomically correct,” Carolyn said.

That means doing much more than just putting some items in a basket, throwing a bow on it, and calling it done. The average basket takes them about 20 minutes to create, but there are others that take much longer. Kate said one basket took her nearly an hour because items kept falling over. Carolyn has experienced items that are tricky to incorporate too.

Luckily though, they have each other.

Being able to work together is a key to their success, and both women laugh when asked about why they think they make such a good team, saying they aren’t sure. But, after some thought, they both agree that they’ve learned to work off of each other’s strengths.

“I’ve tried to mimic her creative vibe, and she’s tried to mimic my ability to structure,” Kate said.

“See, it’s like an old married couple,” Carolyn laughed. “But I think basically we just lucked out. We’re both pretty creative.”

Both women also have the same work ethic, Kate said. They put their noses down and get to work, which is essential when you have dozens of baskets to create.

While their strengths differ they have a similar process when it comes to creating baskets. First, they have to figure out all the components of the gift. Then, the search is on for what they’re going to display it in. After that, they have to create some sort of base for everything to rest on, like crumbled up paper. Next, they start anchoring items by wiring or taping them in. They’ve even had to sew a few items in. Last, and this is Carolyn’s favorite part, they have to dress it up and add all the color and the bows.

“To me, that’s kind of it,” Kate said.

“Ditto!” Carolyn laughed.

While the work is hard both said that it’s fun to see all the items before everyone else, a prime time to pick which items they want to bid on, and pick a favorite. Kate’s partial to the stuffed Peanuts gang all dressed in University of Michigan clothing. Carolyn really likes an artistic ceramic bowl.

It’s hard to believe that this is only the third time they’ve worked together, and that they haven’t been friends for decades.

One of Kate's favorite baskets, which also took
nearly an hour to create.
Neither Carolyn nor Kate had any experience in creating gift baskets before. Well, Kate does them for friends, but never at this capacity. It was a slightly daunting task when they did this for the first time for Angela Hospice’s Laughter Lifts You Up earlier this year, an event that had 1,000 women in attendance and nearly 90 baskets to create. That was also the first time the two had met.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe the two of us are doing this,” said Kate, who was nervous at first.

She wasn’t alone.

“That first day I left, I had a headache and I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’” Carolyn said.

But the next day she decided to come in with a different attitude, which made all of the difference.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I’m a volunteer and I can do the best I can.’ Then you start to get the hang of it,” Carolyn continued.

“You get better as you go,” Kate said.

Now they can take items and make them look irresistible.

“Because of the way we wrapped it,” Carolyn said.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Gross

Name: Kathy Gross

How long have you been a volunteer?
Almost a year.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center and mailings.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I’ve driven by here for ages. I always saw it and thought it would be nice to do volunteer work but I was working at the time. Then my husband and I retired in 2011, and I lost him in July 2013. That was rough, and I said, “I need to do something with myself.”

I always get more out of doing for somebody; you get so much more back. So I thought, I’ll go see what that’s all about. I honestly didn’t know in the beginning if I could do this or not. I thought, I’ll just try it; and I’m so glad I did. It’s just such a rewarding feeling that you’ve put a smile on somebody’s face.

I just feel glad that I had the opportunity to get to know them a little bit or make it a little nicer for them when I was there.

Kathy (left) with Angela Hospice staff Melanie Miller.
Why Angela Hospice?
Just from driving by it, and I had always heard the name. But in driving by, I went, “Oh, there’s Angela Hospice.” When I thought about how I need to do something or I should try doing something…this is only ten minutes from my house, and I thought, ok, let’s just check it out and see what it’s about. It fit.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I think just knowing that I’m maybe, not always, but maybe able to help somebody else that needs some attention or someone to talk to. Or aside from the patients themselves, that I’m taking a little bit of a load off of the staff.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There’s this patient with dementia, and every once in a while he’ll say a word or something, but not too much, and he can feed himself but it takes forever. I enjoy being with him.

I was in the other day for a meeting and I got here too early so I walked around and he was there, and they were feeding him. I just love going in and saying, “Ben! How are you doing?”*

With certain people he will smile. He doesn’t have a full smile but he gets a smile when he’s recognizing you or he’s happy or whatever the case may be.

Many will say that they’re glad I came in to visit them, and that’s always nice. But Ben really stands out in my head. You can tell when he’s connecting.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy

Becoming the Cookie Lady

Pam Shorter didn’t want to volunteer for hospice.

"At first I thought, 'I don't want to deal with people at the end of life. No, that's depressing!'" she said.

And yet, Pam is now six years into her career as an Angela Hospice volunteer.

It was a friend at church that suggested she volunteer at Angela Hospice. Pam didn't know how she wanted to help, but she took the training class anyway. That's where she heard about Alberta Karll, affectionately known around these parts as "the Pie Lady." Alberta bakes pies each week in the Care Center family kitchen for patients and visitors.

When Pam heard this she was inspired: "I said, 'Well, what about muffins?'"

Pam can be found in the Care Center kitchen
every week.
Now Pam comes in weekly too, along with Alberta, to bake all sorts of goodies for patients and their guests. She's even been recognized out in public as "the Cookie Lady."

The appreciation that patients and families express for her freshly baked goods is humbling and heartwarming, she said.

"Angela Hospice was there for my dad, so I think it's important to give back," she continued.

It was in 2007 that Pam's father was enrolled in Angela Hospice's home care program. While he was only under hospice care for a few days, Pam was grateful for the support and care he received.

"I would definitely say those three days made an impact on me," she said. "They left a favorable impression on my mind."

There are memories of cooking for her dad too, an experience that is now echoed as she cooks and bakes for others at Angela Hospice.

Her banana cream pie is a favorite, as are her oatmeal cranberry walnut cookies. In summertime there's the refreshing lemon blueberry crumble. Winter sees her cranberry pie and cherry streusel coffee cake.

"They're just simple things, comfort food," Pam said. "But you're sharing it with important people, friends. It's heartwarming."

And so is Pam's caring and generosity.­­

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Brown

Name: Susan Brown

How long have you been a volunteer?
Almost five years.

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
Patient care in the Care Center, events, and children’s holiday workshops.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I wanted to give back to the community and I also have a friend who works here, [Home Care Clinical Supervisor] Laurie Comps. We’ve known each other for a very long time ─ since middle school. Just hearing about it I thought, this is something that I could do.

If I can make patients feel comfortable, and work with families, because families are upset…If they know the patient feels comfortable then they’re going to feel a lot calmer about the situation.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
It’s very rewarding. If I feel like I’ve kind of lifted somebody’s day or made some of the families feel a little bit better, then to me, that is the best part of it.

What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
There was a patient who I had been working with for a really long time and I ran into one of the family members and they thanked me. They said that I helped ease their mom’s fears. I spent a lot of time with her; she was here for months. So that was very nice of her. She sought me out, which I thought was really nice. It was a very “feel good” moment.