National Volunteer Week - Meet EveryStep Volunteer Pat Hartley

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April 17 to 23 is National Volunteer Week. At EveryStep, hundreds of volunteers provide care and support to thousands of patients, clients, families and our own staff every year.

Pat Hartley has been an EveryStep Hospice volunteer with the Perry team for 14 years. She is dedicated to helping hospice patients and their families find comfort, peace and even fun. “I have sat with patients to share in conversation as a friend, played cards such as Crazy 8 or 21, played some of their favorite music (even Elvis) from my iPhone and have sung some fun and favorite songs with them,” says Pat. “I have read stories to them, watched TV with them, given foot massages, and have even helped with some household cleaning projects.”

Though she loves volunteering with EveryStep Hospice patients, she understands the nervousness volunteers experience when they are asked to serve. “Each time I have been asked to help with EveryStep, I feel a little anxious about who I will be meeting and what to expect on that first visit, but I find that I always leave feeling like that patient has blessed me more than I have been able to help them.” 

Volunteering has brought Pat much joy and one memory is especially clear. “I remember taking a lady out once a week to do errands and she would always take me out to eat with her at a special buffet place afterwards,” remembers Pat.  “She would dress up, wear red rouge with blue eye shadow and wear a dress with anklet nylons pulled halfway up her legs. She was always full of joy and loved buying huge baskets of petunias to hang in her entryway. I'm not sure how we managed to put five huge baskets of petunias in my car to take to her home one spring day, but we did it!”

Pat’s experience with hospice is personal, as well. Her mother-in-law received hospice care before cancer took her life. “The nurses were most helpful to provide loving care and comfort for her at a most difficult time,” says Pat. “My father was also a recipient of hospice care while in a nursing home and the nurses were very helpful in explaining what we could expect as dementia took its toll.”

When she’s not volunteering, Pat loves spending time with her family — watching her 10 grandsons participate in sports, as well as caring for her new 17-month-old grandson three days a week. Pat attends two weekly Bible studies, gives occasional piano lessons, enjoys walking outside or at the mall and traveling, though the pandemic has slowed that down temporarily. She also cares for her 88-year-old mother, who is still able to live on her own at her home.

With such an active life, Pat still makes time to volunteer with EveryStep because she says she gets so much out of it personally.

“I enjoy volunteering with EveryStep because I have been blessed with meeting such loving and caring patients along with their families, even as they are going through a difficult time. I love hearing their life stories, seeing their smiles or sharing in their frustrations,” says Pat. “It gives me a new appreciation of how precious life really is and how precious each of these patients is as well. Even if I am unable to communicate with them or feel they may not know I am even there, it is encouraging to think that I am hopefully providing a comfort to them, knowing they are not alone.”

EveryStep has a variety of volunteer needs across Iowa. 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 www.everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.