April 17, 2021
EveryStep Hospice Volunteer: Pam Fogle
When Pam Fogle's mother was dying of cancer, hospice wasn't a service widely available in her small town.
"I could see the need that is out there for people to go and help families," she says, and that's what she's done for more than a decade as a volunteer for EveryStep Hospice (formerly Hospice With Heart) in southwest Iowa.
After an organization she was involved with began working with the non-profit then known as Hospice With Heart, Pam knew she wanted to continue, eventually attending volunteer training.
Since then, she's helped in many ways. From visiting hospice patients, reading or playing music for them, to recording stories through the Life Review program, and even filling in when the EveryStep Hospice team assistant is on vacation.
"It's rewarding," she says of her myriad tasks as a volunteer. "Meeting the patients and finding out a little bit about their life story, it's really nice."
Pam recalls one patient with whom she made a unique connection. One day, the woman, who had Alzheimer’s, began chatting about her breakfast, which included jam.
"It was a day that we had a really good visit," Pam says. "She started talking about jam and told me a story about how she spent time who an aunt and they would go out to pick fruit and then make jam."
Just by asking a simple question, Pam was able to bring out stories from the woman that wouldn't have otherwise been told.
"It was the best visit I've had," she says.
Another patient that Pam would visit ended up being discharged from hospice service – an occurrence which sometimes happens among hospice-treated patients who begin to feel better, stronger or simply want to resume curative treatment for their illness.
Even though the woman was no longer a patient, Pam says she continued to stop by to see her, as they had grown close.
"She had so many neat stories," Pam says. "We talked about her learning to drive. We both grew up on a farm and there were so many similarities between us. We visited quite well."
While making connections with patients has been a highlight for Pam, she notes that helping families is just as rewarding.
"When a patient passes, I always try to go to the visitation or service. I always try to get a card to the family though the EveryStep office," she says. "It's important for the family to know that someone did care about their family member."
Pam suggests others interested in volunteering give EveryStep Hospice a try.
"It's rewarding for the volunteer but also the patient," she says. "You're a different person, face, voice for them to hear. Some patients don't have family here or they can't visit all the time. You're able to fill that void."
If you're interested in volunteer opportunities with EveryStep, visit our website.