The Calm in the Storm

At the end of last year’s Laughter Lifts You Up there were nearly 80 auction items to be picked up by guests. As the winning bidder numbers went up on the screen, expressions of joy could be heard throughout the banquet room, and then all the winners headed towards the back, rushing to get their prizes. For some, seeing a crowd of women stampeding your way would have been overwhelming -- but not for volunteer Sue Flatley.

“I tend to stay calm,” Sue laughed. “I don’t seem to get rattled by that whole lot.”

The annual women’s event was only the second time Sue had led auction close-out, and all those prizes were picked up in under an hour. Her first was at Light Up a Life 2014.

No matter how crazy things got Sue still had a calmness about her, making sure that items were successfully signed out and given to the correct guest. There’s something about her soothing voice that makes it feel like everything will be fine, even when there are dozens of excited women trying to get their prizes.

Sue, who has been an Angela Hospice volunteer for nearly 13 years, used to do the summer reading program at one of the local libraries, which also had long lines of people waiting. Working auction close-out was a piece of cake next to that.

“You’d have these lines of people,” she said. “It just didn’t faze me. I’d just keep saying, ‘We’re thinking of you, we’re gonna get right to you.’”

Sue (right) at 2014's Light Up a Life, where she
led auction close-out for the first time.
It was that composure and coolness that helped things go so smoothly at both Laughter Lifts You Up and Light Up a Life. It also helps that her favorite part about the event is meeting and talking to people.

Even though things did go smoothly at both events it was still a little daunting when she got asked to do it.

“[I thought] you want me to do what?” she laughed. “It’s nice to be asked but it is a little scary because it’s a big responsibility.”

This February will be the fifth time that Sue has worked Laughter Lifts You Up. She said things have changed a little over the years but there’s one thing that’s stayed the same: how impressed she is by how much people give.

“It just amazes me the generosity of people,” she said. “They’re very generous in giving to Angela Hospice.”

So is Sue, who volunteers in a variety of departments.

When she started volunteering she worked in bereavement and doing the occasional mailing. But since she retired a few years ago she’s been able to get a lot more involved. Now she works all the annual events, creates flower arrangements for patient rooms and sitting areas throughout the Care Center, and helps with the ice cream socials on Fridays.

Like some other volunteers, Sue had prior hospice experience before becoming a volunteer. Her dad, who lived in Arkansas, was in hospice care for about a month before dying in 1998. Her mom was in hospice in a hospital. Both of her in-laws used hospice as well. Seeing all the support she received while her dad was in hospice was what inspired Sue to become a volunteer.

Sue also volunteers as a "flower bud."
“When I came back home I waited a year or so and then I decided that I should…that hospice would be something I would be interested in getting involved with since they were such a big help with my dad and my mother in Arkansas,” Sue said.

Her prior experience with hospice gives her an extra special skill when it comes to working with patients and their families.

“I think it gives you compassion,” Sue said. “You kind of understand what the families are going through.”

Add Sue’s compassion to her ever-growing list of reasons she’s a fantastic volunteer.

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