April 24, 2021
Get To Know Volunteer Coordinator Machelle Lowe
Machelle Lowe has lived in the same 30-mile radius near Mount Pleasant for her entire life. So it is only fitting that she found the perfect job in that area as well.
As the volunteer coordinator for EveryStep Hospice in southeast Iowa, Machelle does a million little things each day that ensure the needs of hospice patients and their families' are being met thanks to the volunteers who selflessly give their time and talents to the organization.
"I have found where I belong, I couldn’t be happier with the work that I do," Machelle says.
Machelle found EveryStep after working the overnight shift at a long-term care facility. The hours were wearing on her, and with children at home, she knew she was ready for a move. That's when a former co-worker told her about an open position with EveryStep Hospice.
"I left my job for a part-time position," she recalls. "At the end of my second year, the office position of volunteer coordinator was open. My team director asked me if I was interested. She motivated me to apply and encouraged me that I would be good at it. She just believed in me."
While Machelle loved working directly providing care to patients, she was ready for a more behind-the-scenes position. The rest is history, as they say, and in 2010 Machelle was soon orientated to the new position by Rosy Harrington, a long-time volunteer coordinator with EveryStep. Harrington died in 2020 but left behind a legacy of service and mentorship that continues to inspire Machelle.
"I strive to be good at my job because I love it and because I want to honor Rosy and her dedication to serving hospice patients and families," Machelle said.
Machelle has taken that dedication and drive to other areas of the state, often covering vacant volunteer coordinator positions and orientating new coordinators who join the organization.
"The adventures of traveling across Iowa to other teams is fun," she says. "There is never a boring day and no two days are alike."
That's because there are so many facets to being a volunteer coordinator. But all the work is worth it when a patient and volunteer are matched, Machelle says.
"The volunteers make a difference in a sensitive time, they are so compassionate," she says. "When I hear how a volunteer helped, whether it’s cooking a favorite meal or reading a novel, or just sitting quietly, holding someone’s hand, those moments mean the most. Coordinating care for a hospice patient makes me proud at the end of the day."
While these simple interactions are a highlight for Machelle, she says that the veteran pinning ceremonies she arranges for hospice patients will stay with her forever.
"Being responsible for facilitating ceremonies to recognize the veteran hospice patients is an honor," she says. "I have seen memorabilia that is sacred and heard stories that took my break away. These men and women and their families have sacrificed to serve the country, something most of us cannot begin to understand. These are very special moments that I am blessed to carry with me."
Machelle notes that honoring her volunteers is just as important. In April, during volunteer appreciation week, volunteer coordinators often host recognition events, bringing their volunteers together to celebrate. With COVID-19, these recognitions were canceled in 2020 and may not happen in-person in 2021. Still, Machelle looks forward to a time when they can once again enjoy a homemade cake, laugh and enjoy each other’s' company.
Though being a volunteer coordinator for southeast Iowa and filling in at other offices keeps her busy, Machelle always makes time to hang out with her family, including her two grandchildren, and enjoy life off the Mount Pleasant town square.
"I enjoy my patio furniture and fire pit as much as possible," she says. "I attend the community events in the park, especially the music events. I take the littles on walks around the uptown area to see the water fountain, visit the Dairy Queen and play at the playground, all within a few blocks."
In the quiet times, Machelle likes to take and edit photos. Inspired by photos taken during her grandmother’s last days, she introduced the idea of taking photos of hospice patients' hands for their family members.She has shared photo tips with the teams that she works with, so anyone on the team can offer the hand photos, creating a lasting keepsake for families to cherish.
She's also recently returned to her love of painting, creating colorful, sentimental pieces for her family members.
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