Hospice provides lots of opportunities to help

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Hospice of the Central Peninsula provides a range of services to individuals who are dying or grieving, but it also provides opportunities for other community members interested in helping their neighbors.

The nonprofit organization, a member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, operates almost entirely on funding from the area community and the dedication of volunteers.

The next fund-raiser for the organization will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center. Donations for the planned auction currently are being accepted. The fund-raiser is being underwritten by Unocal, allowing all proceeds to go to hospice services.

But money isn't the only way area residents can help hospice. Each year, the organization offers volunteer training sessions. Currently, there are about 20 volunteers providing in-home, direct care to terminally ill patients and their families.

Volunteers must be 21 or older, undergo a background check and fingerprinting and be drug and alcohol free. They also must participate in 21 hours of orientation training and eight hours of continuing education.

Of course, volunteers need to have a passion for helping people.

"They're the heart of hospice," said Sue Zurfluh, hospice's bereavement coordinator.

Men especially are needed to help with the program, both offering emotional support for those dealing with grief and providing in-home care.

"A lot of husbands have lost wives, dads have lost children, and they're having a hard time," Zurfluh said. "They don't have a place to go. I'd like to see more men come forward to be part of the organization."

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