May 14, 2021
Championing EveryStep's Mission From Hospice Volunteer To Employee: Barbara Pottorff
When Barbara Pottorff's father was diagnosed with cancer 14 years ago, he was given nine months to live.
"My father was very punctual, to the minute, so I knew when he would die," she recalls. But she also knew there was a lot the family could do during those nine months, especially if they ensured her father was receiving proper care.
That's when the family, who lived in Mount Ayr, learned of EveryStep Hospice. At first, her father received hospice care in his home.
"My dad an I were so close," she said. "We had all the conversations and there was nothing left unresolved."
The last week of his life, he was moved to Kavanagh House on 56th Street, EveryStep's hospice house in Des Moines.
"The people there, the nurses and aides, were amazing. They were absolutely a God-send," Barbara said. "We couldn't have done it without them. My dad was comfortable there."
Though her experience with EveryStep Hospice was relatively short, the care and support her family received made a significant impact on Barbara.
"I thought the world of the organization and people there," she said. "I always thought I want to come back and help, to do something."
At first, that meant marking the anniversary of her father's death by bringing in treats - cookies or cinnamon rolls - to the family room at Kavanagh House.
"Hospice was fantastic to my family and I wanted to give back and do more," she said. "I knew I was going to volunteer when I was ready."
And eventually she was. A few years ago, Barbara went through EveryStep's volunteer training program and began volunteering at Kavanagh House, visiting with patients, retrieving water and warm blankets for patients, answering the phones and directing families around the facility.
"The patients, it was so rewarding to know that you're part of their final journey, they really appreciated it," she said. "It's one of the most rewarding personal experiences you can have."
Not long after Barbara started volunteering, she noticed a job posting for a donor database specialist with the EveryStep Foundation.
"Once I saw it was EveryStep, I knew it was where I belonged," she said.
While the position is similar to one she had at another non-profit, Barbara says she's been blown away by how everyone at the organization lives out EveryStep's mission.
"I believe in the mission, and believe that the leadership in the company believes in the mission, and I think that carries over to the employees and we can see that. The employees talk the talk, and walk the walk," she said.
Throughout her time with EveryStep, as a family member of a patient, a volunteer and an employee, Barbara has always felt heard and appreciated.
"I do feel like it was a way to give back," she said of her experiences. "I always thought if this was my dad again, I'd want someone to come in and be nice and help him. And working at EveryStep, it seems that every single person is here for the right reason.”
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