Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Ann Desjarlais

Name: Mary Ann Desjarlais

How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been a volunteer for 12 years

What areas do you work in/what sort of tasks do you do as a volunteer?
I help with fundraisers, make deliveries to patients’ homes, work on mailings, and do home visits and respite care.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?
I became a volunteer when I retired. I wanted to do something worthwhile with my time.

Why Angela Hospice?
I became familiar with Angela Hospice when my dad was there. I was inspired after seeing the level of care he received.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I love meeting the people I come in contact with. The patients and families are so grateful.


Mary Ann sells raffle tickets at many of Angela  
Hospice's events.
What is one of your favorite stories or memories from volunteering?
I was doing respite care with a patient that had Alzheimer's. She never showed any recognition toward her husband. One day, her husband came home and sat next to her. She looked at him with recognition in her eyes. She put her head on his shoulders and the two of them just sat there and enjoyed the moment. It was such a beautiful thing to see.

Employee Spotlight: Joan Lee

Name, title: Joan Lee, Bereavement Social Worker

How long have you worked here?
23 years.

What made you decide to work here?
I wanted to work at a place that provided very dedicated care and I was in the process of switching jobs. I drove by Angela Hospice before they even had the driveway in and I said, “hospice.” I had also just lost my 46-year-old dear friend. I also had a lot of losses in my life so I had experience with death.

So as I passed Angela Hospice I thought, “Now that would be a place where there would be dedicated people working…it would be more like a vocation.”

Sister Giovanni and two other social workers interviewed me, and I was offered the position.

How had you heard of Angela Hospice?
I had never heard of it before but I was just driving by and the whole concept of hospice – and after the death of my friend hospice was already in my head – so when I saw the word “hospice” I thought, “I think I can do that.”

So I asked the mother of the dear friend who had died – who had known me since I was 16 – I asked her what she thought, whether I could do that type of work, and another best friend who would always tell me the truth, and they both said yes. Then I applied.

What’s a typical day like for you?
We pretty much see clients one after the other. We also have the support groups and we have to do phone work assessments. So we’re pretty busy. That’s pretty much what we do.

What is your favorite part about working at Angela Hospice?
My favorite part is the people. Not only my clients, who are very special and very dear – and this is a very gratifying job that we have here in bereavement. It’s very fulfilling because we’re able to guide and companion these people through this very terrible time in their lives to the point where they can live happily again. I think that’s very gratifying.

But beyond that, the people who work here are very similar in nature. Their goal is to provide dedicated care and everybody here is pretty doggone nice. That’s the best part about Angela Hospice.

Joan with fellow bereavement team members. 
What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Angela Hospice?
There are a lot of special moments where you meet people and help them. I don’t know if I have one special moment because there are so many moments with special people who have died – the first three years I worked here I did home care and then I moved into the Bereavement Department.

There was one very special patient who really died with a smile on her face and couldn’t wait to go to Jesus. I never saw that before and I’ve never seen it after. Every day she would say to her kids who surrounded her, “Maybe today I’ll go to Jesus.” When she did, she had a beautiful rosy face and a smile. It was beautiful. 

Introducing…Everydayhero

A new way to super-charge your Walk of Remembrance



Everydayhero is a new tool that Walk of Remembrance participants can use to make an even bigger impact on Angela Hospice and the community.

If you are walking in remembrance of a loved one, invite others to join you as virtual team members! Just visit our page on Everydayhero and click the green “Start Fundraising” button:


The Mimi's Little Sweethearts team at the 2016 Walk
of Remembrance.
In under five minutes, you’ll be able to customize your own team fundraiser page and easily share it with family, friends, and coworkers on social media. 

For more on the Walk Remembrance and how to start a team, visit our event page here.





Volunteer Spotlight: Deborah Diehr

Deborah Diehr at Balanced Life Massage Studio in Westland, Michigan.
“Whenever someone talks about hospice, I always mention that I am a volunteer for Angela,” said Deborah Diehr, a four year Angela Hospice volunteer.

When Debbie isn’t working full time for a durable medical equipment company, she is busy owning and managing her own massage business at Balanced Life Massage Studio in Westland, Michigan.

Her background in massage therapy has made her a treasured volunteer here at Angela Hospice. Debbie volunteers in the Care Center, but spends most of her time visiting patients’ homes to give massages.

For Debbie, knowing she is making a difference in someone's final journey, and being able to give them comfort and peace, is what she cherishes most about volunteering.

As for the most challenging part? “Not being able to get to every patient Lora sends to me.”

With working a full time job and running her own business, Debbie has many demands on her time. “I can only do what I can, but I feel bad that I can't do more,” said Debbie, a mother of four and grandmother of eight, who is always eager to help others.

Debbie was introduced to Angela Hospice during her mom’s passing, after learning about Angela through a friend.

“We contacted Angela and they sent a nurse out to do her initial assessment, and broke the news to us that she only had days to live,” Debbie said.

Although her mother passed away just a week later, Angela offered bereavement services to Debbie and that left a big impression.

“When I went to massage school, Teri, the Director of Volunteer Services for Angela Hospice, gave a presentation to our class, and I knew that I needed to pursue the volunteer program at Angela,” Debbie said.

Teri’s presentation wasn’t the only event that led to Debbie’s decision to sign up for the volunteer classes.

“When my dad was going through his last days, I was going to massage school at the same time, and I gave my dad a massage just before he passed away,” Debbie said.

This too inspired Debbie to volunteer; she wanted to be able to use her skills to help others like her dad. Massage therapy can benefit hospice patients not only physically, but psychologically as well. 

For Debbie, finding out that one of her patients actually knew her dad made it all come full circle.

“They worked together years ago,” she said. “It made me realize just how small our world really is.”

For more information about Angela Hospice’s volunteer program, visit www.angelahospice.org/volunteer.