Team effort takes volunteers to thrive

WAYLAND — Vincent House of Wayland is a place of comfort for those in the last months of their life.

Anyone who is medically determined to be terminally ill and in the last three months of their life is offered a room in Vincent House. There can only be two residents at a time.

For two decades, this caring environment has offered shelter, love, time, and peace to the patients that have called it their final home. It is a team effort that takes volunteers to thrive.

Vincent House Executive Director Kim Snyder, Vincent House Development and Volunteers Director Mary Jo Jacobs, and Volunteer Lorraine McConnell talked about the importance of bringing more volunteers to this home.

Snyder said that having 100 active volunteers would be ideal; right now they have 60 volunteers.

“For anyone out there who is wanting to reconnect with humanity in the world today, this is the place to go. If they feel like humanity has been lost, and they can’t see it, they can come here,” she said. “We want to show people we are doing good here, and we want to reconnect them with humanity. We would love to have them come and volunteer.”

Jacobs added that the most important thing is to pay it forward. McConnell shares with other volunteers why she wants to make an impact. She felt a call to open her heart to helping others, and she knows what these families have gone through.

“We all remain positive and will laugh and cry as we share stories," added Snyder. "The important thing is to remain positive when you are here. There is no negative energy brought into this house. We love to share our stories with people. We have some very dedicated volunteers who come in, and they have been doing it for a long time. One of our best brings her teenage grandchildren to see how she helps others.”

Snyder added that it is nice to see children come in to help and learn communication skills as well.

“It all starts with simple acts of kindness. A child is asked to bring one of the residents a glass of water and it means a lot. We have had some who were children helping out and are now looking into getting into the caregiver fields,” she said.

McConnell said it is great to expose children to these situations now, so that they can learn to cherish relationships.

Snyder has been part of the Vincent House team for 15 years now. She started out when she was looking for a new avenue to use her nursing skills.

“I was at a point in my life when I needed to change the type of nursing I was doing. I have been at Vincent House for 15 years now, and it is the most rewarding part of my career. I have been a nurse for 32 years overall,” she said.

Jacobs started a decade ago at Vincent House, noting its impact on her life.

“I was in the Lioness Club and Kim (Snyder) was giving a speech on Vincent House one night. We talked about what they do here at Vincent House. I had thought I was too old to volunteer, but I showed up for the interview and really loved it. As soon as I walked in I had the feeling that I belonged here,” she said. “I have had several jobs in my life, but only a couple were important, the one I had at Kinship Children and here at Vincent House. This place keeps me going.”

Snyder said that the overall energy of the house needs to be kept up for the sake of the residents and families.

“There are times when things need to be sacred and quiet. There are times when we need to keep the families motivated and spirits up. We keep the volunteers and families motivated all the time. We tell the families to be present in the moment, and not to worry about anything,” she said.

Volunteers only need to be on for four hour shifts and don’t need to be there every week. There is a strong need for inside and outside volunteers. Inside volunteers help with the house and residents. Outside volunteers help keep up the garden, mow the lawn, wash the windows, and general maintenance.

“Residents are never here alone. There are volunteers for every shift. We have overnight shifts too,” Snyder said. “Some of the best volunteers are the ones who always felt this call to be a nurse. We even thought about starting an internship for college students here.”

Snyder said that people of all ages have come to be volunteers. Some of the best volunteers are in their 70s and 80s. They also need younger volunteers to keep the house going.

Jacobs said that anyone is welcome to drop in and shadow one of the volunteers to see if it is a good fit. Another good approach is to take couples with married couples or parents and children.

McConnell has just started volunteering at Vincent House and already feels great peace.

“I would like to help others through my personal experiences. I don’t know what the patient is going through, but I do know what the families are going through. I am very positive and care about helping others. It is a gift of love, and a way to give back,” she said.

Jacobs said volunteers are the heart of the home.

If interested in volunteering contact Snyder and Jacobs. For more information on Vincent House visit http://www.thevincenthouse.org