January 4, 2022
Meet EveryStep Volunteer Connie Doudy: "It just makes my heart full."
Connie Doudy is intimately familiar with hospice. Her 38-year-old daughter passed away in 2011 while in hospice care and though the loss of a child is devastating, Connie remembers and appreciates the care and attention her daughter received at the end of her life.
When Connie’s husband suggested they get involved as volunteers with the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr, it seemed to be a natural fit. “We both feel that we have been very blessed in our lives and wanted to give something back to others,” says Connie.
Retired after 40 years at Farmland Foods (now Smithfield Foods) and 29 years at Hy-Vee in Denison, Connie has certainly not slowed down. “I do visits to patients at facilities and also am involved in the veteran pinning [ceremonies],” says Connie. “When we had restrictions about visits because of COVID, I had phone visits with a patient. Last year I volunteered to deliver some cheer packages to people. Whatever I’m involved in, I feel it is very much appreciated not only by patients, but by EveryStep as well.”
Connie says she loves all her volunteer work with EveryStep, but the veteran pinning ceremonies hold a special place in her heart, having served in the Army National Guard from 1984 to 1990, achieving the rank of E6 Staff Sergeant.
Veteran pinning ceremonies include the Pledge of Allegiance, the awarding of a veteran service flag pin, the singing of “God Bless America,” a reading of "What is a Veteran," and the presentation of a certificate of recognition. “Usually, family members are able to be there,” says Connie. “The song pertaining to the branch of military they served in is played. I can tell you that I’ve seen it bring tears to the veteran’s eyes, and mine as well.”
Connie considers spending time with hospice patients a privilege and whatever the circumstances, she feels she has made a new friend. “It makes my heart so full to give smiles and receive smiles back from the people I see, no matter if they are responsive or not. I believe that they hear me and know I am there. The families that I have met have said how glad they are to have us.”
When she’s not volunteering, Connie loves to grow things. On the farm outside Mount Ayr where she and her husband live, they grow flowers and vegetables, and raise chicken, geese and cows. She donates extra vegetables and eggs to the local neighborhood center. She also enjoys fishing and taking walks with her three dogs.
Even with the farm, two living adult children, six grandchildren and two great-granddaughters, Connie says volunteering is not a burden. “Volunteering for EveryStep is definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have done. It is so easy. Everyone should give it a try. I have never felt pressured to do more than I’m able or comfortable with. It just makes my heart full.”
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.