EveryStep Hospice Volunteer: Mary Austin

Mary Austin has a connection with older adults. While she’s retired herself, she’s always been able to relate to and build meaningful relationships with those her senior. 
“Maybe because I miss my parents, or the values older people have,” she said of making relationships. “Usually people like to share experiences they have. We just click.” 
When Mary, who lives in St. Charles, began looking for ways to give back as a volunteer, her mind automatically went to serving an older population. EveryStep Hospice in Winterset was the perfect fit. 
“It made sense to seek out hospice and fulfill my need to I’ve back. Life isn’t all fun, you need to give back and that’s what I’m trying to do,” she said. 
Nearly two years ago, Mary attended the EveryStep Hospice volunteer orientation and was ready to begin visiting with patients. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began. 
Undeterred, Mary shifted her focus from in-person visits to phone calls. While she would prefer to visit face-to-face with patients, Mary says she’s still been able to develop a strong relationship with a woman in her area. 
“She’s the closest relationship I’ve had volunteering,” Mary says. “She’s at home and elderly. She is very interesting to talk to. She enjoys the company and so do I.” 
While their calls began as once a week, they now occur up to two times a week, and Mary sometimes even drops off groceries for the woman. Over the course of their visits, Mary says they’ve formed a solid friendship. 
“I care about her so much,” Mary says. “If she weren’t a patient, I’d still want to do this as a friend. We just have a connection, she’s a dear friend now.” 
Even when in-person volunteer visits begin again, Mary says she’ll continue to make phone call check-ins, just adding another layer to her volunteerism. 
Mary urges others looking for ways to give back to consider volunteering with EveryStep Hospice. 
“There is definitely a reward for serving people in need and those that need emotional support, and even for families that are going through loss,” she said. 

To learn about EveryStep’s many volunteering opportunities, visit our website. For more information about EveryStep Hospice’s services, including its hospice houses in Des Moines and Creston, please visit our services page.