April 22, 2022
National Volunteer Week: Meet EveryStep Volunteers Pat and Chance Teply
Chance Teply is a hard-working volunteer for the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr. Months of training have helped him be the calm and steadying presence hospice patients appreciate, even at the very end of life. When Chance is not volunteering for EveryStep, he makes time to visit local schools, and especially enjoys helping students work on their reading skills. Chance always has his friend Pat by his side during these visits.
Chance is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi hospice dog.
Chance’s owner Pat Teply began her career in a nursing home and spent 14 years there before taking a position with a local doctor’s office. “Observing how hospice worked gave me the inspiration and desire to begin volunteering,” says Pat, who retired from nursing after 38 years. “Nursing gave me a lot of satisfaction and I was fortunate to meet a large number of great people, sometimes when they were going through a low point in their lives. I wanted to continue helping people and felt hospice would be the place to do that.”
Pat chose to volunteer with the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr, where she visits hospice patients in nursing homes and EveryStep’s Greater Regional Hospice Home in Creston. “While visiting with anyone brings joy, I really love the retired farmers. These people have the best stories to share, perhaps because I was raised on a farm,” says Pat. “I have completed life reviews, transported patients to food banks, taken patients out for lunch and provided respite care for family members. I have also participated in 11th Hour visits, which while sobering, are a very critical part of our mission.”
When Pat made Chance part of her family, she knew she wanted him to be a hospice dog. “Somebody must have been looking down on us, as he developed into perhaps the best hospice dog ever,” says Pat.
Chance began basic training in Osceola, then more advanced training in Des Moines. His final training test involved Chance visiting Bass Pro Shops in Altoona, where he had to interact with people and the environment in an acceptable way. He passed with flying colors and went on to ace the International Pet Therapy test at Puppy Jake Foundation in Des Moines.
“We had to train him to leave certain things untouched, especially pills,” remembers Pat. I worked with him so much I can put a pill in front of him and he will actually turn away from it. All you have to do is tell him to leave it and he will, including food.”
When not volunteering, Pat enjoys reading and always has a book nearby. She loves to cook and bake, and is always willing to help with bereavement dinners. Her very favorite thing to do is spend time with her daughter, BreAnne and her grandchildren: eighth-grader Shannon, fifth-grader Aiden and second-grader Caroline.
Chance enjoys visiting schools when not volunteering with EveryStep. He loves being petted and talked to by the students, and even helps some practice their reading. “The kids enjoy placing books in front of him and whichever one he touches is the one they read. I really think he enjoys listening to them,” says Pat.
One of Pat’s favorite volunteering memories involves Chance. “While sad, probably my special memory was when Chance and I were sitting with a patient at the end of her life. She was able to hold Chance’s leash, and knew she was doing so. I really felt like he was able to make her last moments happy ones and hopefully brought her some joy.”
Pat says the visits she and Chance make bring her a great deal of satisfaction. “I am so filled with joy when I watch how Chance interacts with these patients and the joy he brings them. While those I visit enjoy spending time with me, I know they are overjoyed when Chance spends time with them. They so interact with him. Some visit with him, most spend a lot of time petting him, and for others just his companionship seems to be enough.”
If you are interested in volunteering with EveryStep, visit https://www.everystep.org/volunteer.
If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946. Or, complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.