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Taking charge: volunteers keep patients connected

During the last two weeks of her father’s life in hospice, the last thing Jenny Fitzgerald needed to worry about was charging her cell phone. It was also the last thing on her mind as she’d race to his bedside at JourneyCare’s Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter in Glenview every night after work. Yet unfortunately, her phone often ran out of juice, thwarting her efforts to call family with updates.jenny fitzgeraldThis inspired Jenny to launch a Facebook campaign asking 300 online friends to donate chargers to JourneyCare’s inpatient Hospice CareCenters. The results were swift: Amazon packages filled with about 100 brand new chargers started arriving. She labeled them with JourneyCare tags and shipped the devices to the CareCenter locations in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Chicago, Woodstock and Glenview. Jenny’s friend also created laminated signs to promote the chargers to patient families, while a co-worker built a multiport charging stand. Since Jenny’s father, Michael, died in June 2017, she and her mom, Karen, joined as volunteers. Karen volunteers at the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter reception desk on Wednesdays and Jenny and her beagle/Dalmatian mix Cupcake are Saturday regulars.

Jenny first learned about JourneyCare when her employer National Louis University held a service day to encourage employees to volunteer in the community. Jenny volunteered by making blankets, assembling welcome packets and completing other needed tasks for JourneyCare. When her dad became too ill, it was Jenny who recommended hospice to her mom. Once he was with JourneyCare, Jenny recalls a Memorial Day family barbecue his care team staged for their family in the Waud Family Healing Garden at the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter in Glenview.

“They were able to get my dad into a wheelchair and allowed him to give Cupcake one last walk,” she says. “Cupcake was my dad’s world. Once he was at the CareCenter, Cupcake would come every other day to give him love. Dad would also get visits from therapy dogs.”

And that is when the lightbulb went off.

“My dog Cupcake had so much love to give my dad and I wondered what we were going to do after my dad passed?” she adds.

Shortly after Jenny’s dad died, she registered Cupcake as a certified therapy dog and the duo have been visiting patients and their families ever since. Her volunteerism, she says, is driven by her gratitude for the staff at JourneyCare.

“After my dad passed away, I wanted to make sure that others had the same experience as my family,” Jenny says. “Now, every week is my favorite story because I hope I can make one person, one patient, one staff member, one visitor smile and not worry so much or give them happy thoughts for five or 10 minutes.”

Jenny’s future goal is to purchase a multi-port charging station for each CareCenter, along with phone charger collection boxes at each site.

“Through all this I’ve learned how important it is to give back to a place that gave me so much during my family’s time of need,” she says. “I’ve learned that the smallest thing, like a kiss from a dog or a phone charger, can make someone else’s day.”

  • To donate phone chargers to Jenny’s effort for the JourneyCare inpatient Hospice CareCenters
    • Please drop off contributions in the Volunteer Department at the Glenview Administrative Office
    • Or mail them to the same address, Attn: Volunteer Supervisor Kathy Schimmelpfennig.
  • Thinking about becoming a JourneyCare volunteer? Check out the many ways you can help out!

 

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