always have wings. In fact, many of the angels who serve the Charles
County community appear quite ordinary. Yet each day they give of
themselves in extraordinary ways. These angels are humble and do not
seek recognition for their work; nor do they expect financial gain for
their good efforts. They simply give from the heart and expect nothing
in return. At Hospice of Charles County, Ethel Taylor-Young is one such
wingless and humble angel who serves the organization in many ways.
"My desire to get involved with hospice came after several of my family
members used the services of hospice," Taylor-Young says. "After
witnessing the care and support that the hospice staff gave us, I
realized I wanted to volunteer." When she retired from an extensive
career with the federal government, the Waldorf resident signed up with
Hospice of Charles County right away. She recalls, "I was greeted by the
friendly and warm voice of the volunteer coordinator who gave me all the
information required to begin volunteering for hospice."
Cicely Saunders founded hospice to assist the dying and their families.
Having decided the dying process was one of life's most profound
transitions, she wanted to ensure that those actively in the dying
process would die in comfort and with dignity. One of the paramount
services necessary to achieve this, Saunders decided, was support from
volunteers who could run errands, sit with patients while the caregiver
takes a much-needed break, or even help with visiting the bereaved after
their loved one has died. The tasks completed by hospice patient care
volunteers are endless.
In March 2009, after eight weeks of training by the interdisciplinary
staff of Hospice of Charles County, Taylor-Young was officially ready to
offer her services to families enrolled in the hospice's program. "The
training program equipped me with an understanding of hospice, such as
the history and philosophy of care for dying patients and their
families," Taylor-Young explains. "The program also shared the holistic
approach to supporting patients and their families with the dying
process and the effects of grief and loss."
Volunteering with hospice patients can be rewarding in many ways.
Hospice volunteers often have heartwarming stories that they share as
they reflect on time spent with those who are dying. Taylor-Young
remembers a patient who was limited in his ability to get from his bed
to his wheelchair and had failing eyesight. "With each of my patients, I
contact the family for a meet and greet to gain an understanding of the
patient's interests," she says. "This patient had enjoyed many things,
including TV game shows, reading, chocolate cake, and playing games,
especially card games. He was very good at card games. His favorite was
'War.' He never let me win because he did not always play fair. He would
read his cards wrong - this was his strategy, I believe for always
winning." Taylor-Young recalls that each day the patient looked forward
to her visits and emphasizes that they were just as important to her.
"His eyes sparkled as we played his favorite game each visit, sometimes
Besides helping patients, Taylor-Young also helps in the Hospice of
Charles County office, with the hospice bereavement program, and with
hospice fundraising efforts. "Volunteering, I believe is an empowering
way for each of us to help others, and give back to our communities,"
she explains. "It is also a gratifying and rewarding way to show others
that we are there for them and that we support them in their time of
need. All of my patient care experiences have touched me in special
ways, increasing my love and desire to remain a volunteer."
If you are interested in becoming a hospice volunteer in Charles County,
call 301-934-1268; in Calvert County, call 410-535-0892; and in St.
Mary's County, call 301-994-3023.