The reward of volunteering

Gilchrist volunteer, Bob Hallock
Gilchrist volunteer, Bob Hallock

Volunteers are such an integral part of the Gilchrist Hospice Care team. And is why during, National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, that we asked Bob Hallock to tell us a little about his experience volunteering for our Music Therapy program.

I started volunteering to bring music to Gilchrist patients in August 2013. Each week I have gone to Pickersgill Retirement Community to see individual patients in their rooms, where I play an electronic piano and sing. What I love about doing this work is that each patient is different–some are lively and talkative while some are not responsive and in the final stages of dying. But no matter their condition, each patient hopefully receives some joy or some peace from the music.

I never know what music a patient will like, so I ask them first, and if they are unsure or can’t respond, I try out various types of music and see what sticks. This can yield wonderful results.

A woman who seemed totally unresponsive in a coma-like state, seemed to move some when I played “Amazing Grace.” Another woman suffering from serious dementia, and who couldn’t speak rationally, knew the words to “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and sang along with me. A family sitting at the bedside of their grandmother wept as I played “Oh Danny Boy.”

And then there was the time where I was saying goodbye to a woman in bed who was so weak that she could barely speak. She looked into my eyes, smiled, and whispered to me “Bless you.”

What a blessing for me to be able to do this work!


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