Volunteer Spotlight: George Weber

Going to a stranger’s home for the first time and knocking on their door is almost always a little nerve-wracking; just ask home care volunteer George Weber.

“Sure, I had a few butterflies ringing my first doorbell!” he said. “However, I knew that I was entering a home that wanted me there… I was accepted as just another part of the Angela Hospice team.”

George volunteers in home care each week.
As a home care volunteer George definitely feels the love from both patients and their families, who are incredibly appreciative he’s there, even if only for a few hours each week.

“A lot of times you’re just a sounding board,” George laughed. “A little bit of a psychologist sometimes too.”

To patients and families, George and all the other home care volunteers who visit are much more than “just a sounding board.” They can give the patient some companionship and comfort. They can give the loved ones a moment to do something for themselves, even if it’s as small as going to CVS for half an hour.

Volunteers like George can also be a fresh face for patients to tell a favorite story that everyone else has heard 1,000 times.

For George, getting to spend time with patients is his favorite part about volunteering, and has left him with many wonderful memories. He had one patient that taught him a little Italian; and another, who was from Germany, telling him all about his history. George also said that many of the patients he’s worked with have a very good sense of humor and make him laugh often.

“It’s been educational for me,” he said. “And it allows them, I think, to reflect on their lives as well. It gives them somebody else to talk to other than family and friends.”

Patients aren’t the only ones that need someone new to talk to; family members do as well.

“If the patient is bed-ridden, or maybe sleeps a lot, sometimes they just want somebody to talk to, somebody to bare their soul to, other than family,” George said. “So kind of that independent party they can tell their woes to.”

During the last year-and-a-half spent volunteering, George has heard all kinds of things from patient’s loved ones, ranging from those that tell him about the family situation, to others who just need to complain a little and get something off their chest.

So how did George, who had no prior hospice experience, become a hospice volunteer in the first place? He was drawn to it.

“I don’t know that I can explain how or why,” he said. “Just once I had heard about it and researched it a little bit, it felt like the right thing.”

George, who retired from Ford after 32 years, began looking up all the hospices in southeast Michigan and came across Angela Hospice, which was highly rated and was Catholic-based, another factor in his decision. George figured a Catholic-based, non-profit hospice would have values similar to his.

Once in volunteer training George was told there was a pretty significant need for home care volunteers, especially men, so he decided that’s the area he would work in.

“It’s been great,” George said. “I truly, truly enjoy it.”

For those who might be hesitant about volunteering in hospice, George recommends they give it a try anyway and see what it’s really about. He wants them to know it isn’t all sitting by someone’s bedside, even though that is part of it, but it’s so much more.

“One thing with hospice is each of us knows the end game, so there’s no mystery,” he said. “It’s a pretty pragmatic approach, so I think that helps take a lot of the pressure off both the patients and me. We both know what’s going to happen.”

George thinks anyone would be a good home care volunteer as long as they can spare a few hours a week, enjoy helping others, can have one-on-one conversations, and have an empathetic ear.

“People should get out of their comfort zone a little bit and learn more about home care because there’s still a need for that,” George said.

For now, George is going to keep volunteering and knocking on those doors, without the butterflies.

To learn more about volunteering at Angela Hospice please call the Volunteer Department at (734) 464-7810 or visit our website, at AskforAngela.com. If you would like to fill out a volunteer application please click here.

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