February 15, 2022
Meet EveryStep Hospice Volunteer Amy Putney Koenig
Like many EveryStep volunteers, Amy Putney Koenig’s first experience with hospice was caring for and being with her mother at her death. “It led me to realize the dying are a bit of an underserved community,” says Amy. She decided EveryStep Hospice would be a good place for her to make a difference.
“I signed up to take the volunteer training and then coincidentally, I was asked to lead a restorative yoga and meditation workshop for the employees of EveryStep at a wonderful employee appreciation event,” says Amy. “It was great to connect with the wonderful people that make up EveryStep.”
Amy volunteers at EveryStep’s Bright Kavanagh Center in east Des Moines where she visits and sits with hospice patients, or does laundry and cleans the kitchen and community spaces when patients are with friends or family.
“At EveryStep you can choose how you want to volunteer and I enjoy working directly with people,” says Amy. “I feel like I am providing comfort and companionship to a unique community in a difficult situation. I like to bring ease and connection, or just a smile and something to do during their numbered days.”
Amy is an artist and has her own studio where she paints, creates collages and is working on a book titled “The Art of Family Tragedy and How to be Amazing Anyway.” She also works part-time as an art director. She says she uses the flexibility in her schedule to make time for her EveryStep volunteer work. “Sometimes it's only two hours a week, but that helps staff and can make a huge difference in someone's day.”
A favorite moment involved a patient asking Amy to help her find an angel under her covers. “I was thinking she meant the cosmic winged creatures from above and was looking, and then reluctantly said 'I do not see anyone.' She answered, 'Okay. I had a figurine that fell in the bed.’ We laughed and laughed.”
Amy cherishes the special moments she has with patients. “Hearing about someone's life as a new listener is great,” says Amy, who enjoys drawing with patients, planning parties to make up for cancelled trips due to illness, and learning that a patient’s happy place is arranging flowers, enjoying ice cream or spending time with their dog. “There is no shame in death – we are all doing it! It's a special place to be there for the patient in a way that is different than a family member who is grieving.”
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.