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The gift of presence: Volunteers give over 40,000 hours of service

For eight-year-old Izzy Zundell of Chicago, weekly visits from JourneyCare volunteer Sonya Booth offer temporary respite from the progressive degenerative disorder that has left him paralyzed and facing a fatal prognosis. During her visits, Sonya cranks up the brass band, New Orleans-type music and wheels him around the family’s Chicago home – his favorite pastime. Some afternoons she’ll read more than 20 books to Izzy, as he loves to soak up the stories.

“Sonya lets him forget his pain and just be a kid for a short time,” says his dad Neal Zundell. “And, her visits are great for my wife who needs a break.”

He says that Izzy’s condition has deteriorated rapidly in the last six months and that, “Every day Izzy wakes up is a gift.” Sonya’s dedication and service underscores the work JourneyCare volunteers do every day on the frontlines and at the bedsides of our patients and their families.

Sonya says, “Izzy is such a joy and it’s beautiful to see how his family surrounds him with love.”

Like Sonya, many of JourneyCare’s 833 volunteers believe giving back is good for the soul.

At JourneyCare, the volunteer team plays a crucial role in helping to ensure that all patients and families receive expert and compassionate care, says Vice President of Family and Patient Services, Kathleen Recchia.

“The power of our volunteers reaches far beyond the 10 counties we serve,” says Kathleen. “The power lies at the quiet bedsides; the special art projects; the friendly dog visits and in caring for our most fragile community members with a warm and caring heart when it’s needed most.”

Volunteers give their time in many departments throughout JourneyCare, including administration, patient care, finance, facilities, learning and development, compliance, the foundation, bereavement, community outreach and palliative care. They provide special services for our patients such as pet therapy dogs, miniature horses, flower repurposing, art therapy, massage, sewing, knitting and crocheting.

In 2018, JourneyCare volunteers worked a total of 41,686.2 hours and saved the organization $1,042,155.

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month in April, each department will recognize and celebrate the volunteers who assist them. JourneyCare Volunteer Supervisors will pay tribute to this passionate army of volunteers during our three annual appreciation events in May.

Like Sonya, these volunteers have discovered that volunteering and serving others can have a profound impact on the patients and families they serve. Sonya explains, “People say, ‘You must be a saint. I could never be a hospice volunteer.’ Not true! It’s rewarding and often fun. I’ve met so many interesting people and it’s my honor to serve them.” Sonya is the former Director of Campus Communication for the University of Illinois Chicago.

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with JourneyCare, visit journeycare.org/volunteer and fill out the online application.


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