A Promise Kept: Meet EveryStep Volunteer RaNae Rosenow

As a young adult, RaNae Rosenow worked as a certified nursing assistant in several nursing facilities. She enjoyed her job, but always felt sad when a resident was in the active dying process without family to comfort them. Her grief upon their death was felt more deeply in those circumstances and she wished there was more she could do for those coming to the end of their life.

Years passed. RaNae and her husband pursued their careers, raised three children and went about life. When Ranae and her husband became empty nesters, she started to look for volunteer opportunities. About that same time, RaNae cared for her mother as she went through the stages of a terminal illness.

“I had promised her that I would not let her be alone when the time came and she wasn’t alone, thanks to other family members,” says RaNae, who was unable to be with her mother at the time she passed and felt as though she had let her mother down. “I vowed that I would help others in hospice as a tribute to her. That is how it began and it still goes on 15 years later.”

RaNae began her volunteer career with EveryStep as a companion to patients in nursing and hospice facilities, and private homes. From there, she took additional training to become an 11th Hour companion, sitting with patients near the end of their journey who may have been alone, or as respite for family members.

“It's a time of deep respect and reverence for the patient,” says RaNae. “I may hold their hand, read the Bible to them, sing or talk softly to let them know they are not alone. I may sit with a family member and hear the wonderful memories they share with me which gives me insight into the life of the patient.  As each patient is unique, each life story is unique. Each time is an opportunity for me to be grateful for each day, and to feel blessed to have hopefully brought some comfort to another person.”  

When RaNae was working full-time outside the home, most of her volunteering was on the weekends or limited to one evening per week. Now in retirement, she enjoys the flexibility to volunteer whenever her schedule allows, which could be days, evenings or weekends. “I feel so blessed! I have a wonderful husband who supports my volunteering. When not volunteering, you will find me spending time with our three granddaughters ranging in age from 20 down to 6 and 7.  With that range of ages, it is always interesting!”

RaNae and her husband love to travel, and went on several cruises before the pandemic. She expects to resume traveling in the future. In the meantime, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and belongs to two online book clubs. 

RaNae currently volunteers as the weekend receptionist at the EveryStep Bright Kavanagh Center in east Des Moines. She credits her EveryStep volunteer work with helping her develop a better understanding of the diversity in central Iowa, and says while she may be providing a calming and compassionate presence for each patient, the patients have provided her with the same. She continues to think of her mother as she pursues her volunteer work.

It has provided me with inner peace, as I am doing this as a tribute to my mother.

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.