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Pine Tree Hospice volunteers are many things to many people

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — For nearly three and a half decades individuals and families have been served free of charge by Pine Tree Hospice during the time of dying and bereavement. The organization’s volunteers exemplify caring, grace, and compassion, as stated on the cover of the 2018 annual report, among many other qualities one thinks of following the phrase “hospice is ….” All involved with and contributing to Pine Tree Hospice were honored during the annual meeting Nov. 15 at the Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church.

“You may ask why we chose a tree to represent our program tonight?,” Pine Tree Hospice Executive Director Jane Stitham said, with a tree adorned with lights standing behind her in the corner of the room. Stitham said the tree is considered sacred by many cultures around the world and the plant lives, grows, and dies with grace.

“They are considered to be a symbol of immense and enduring strength,” she said, saying anyone coping with an illness also has an enduring strength. “That virtue is in lockstep with hospice.”

Pine Tree Hospice

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
HOSPICE IS … — Members of the Foxcroft Academy Key Club hang paper leaves featuring words and phrases of what attendees of the Pine Tree Hospice annual meeting on Nov. 15 at the Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church think hospice is. The theme for the 2018 session was “hospice is …” as Pine Tree Hospice can be many things to many people.

“Tonight we know each one of you is here because you believe in the work of hospice,” Stitham said. She said seven members of the Foxcroft Academy Key Club would be handing out markers for diners to use on some paper leaves placed by each table setting.

“Write out a word or phrase of what embodies your understanding of hospice,” Stitham said. Once the leaves were collected, the dozens of words were read aloud and the leaves were hung on the tree branches.

“Even though the leaves are going to fall, they are beautiful and we embrace them,” Stitham said.

“Hospice is not a place, it’s the care and comfort for those who are ill,” she said, saying the care and comfort is also for family and friends. Stitham asked how these people are reached, “for Pine Tree Hospice it’s our amazing volunteers.”

The executive director said all volunteers “are fantastic, what they do is support Pine Tree Hospice and its staff so we can support the volunteers who work with the families and their caregivers and those who are sick. I think it can be paired down to an engaged heart, it’s not about you it’s about the families.”

“I could list forever examples of how our volunteers have become engaged and engaged their hearts,” Stitham said. She mentioned a few examples of volunteer efforts, such as helping a client finish a needlework when their motor skills declined, allowing a husband to rest after his wife was unable to sleep at night, providing rides for another who used to hitchhike to the grocery store, and taking another client who loved to drive on rides when they were no longer able to get behind the wheel.

“You know we have a 3,900-square mile area, that’s a huge stretch,” Stitham said about the region in and around Piscataquis County served by Pine Tree Hospice. She said a few years ago one client’s wish was to have a holiday meal, so a volunteer drove two hours to pick up the client’s family, cooked and served the meal, and drove the family members back home — all before the volunteer had their own meal with family.

“The list goes on and on but this is what hospice is all about,” Stitham said.

“As Jane said, the volunteers are serving but they are getting so much back,” Pine Tree Hospice Coordinators of Volunteers and Client Services Lisa Joy White said. She said there are about 60 people giving of their time to the organization before recognizing some of the volunteers.

“I have great admiration for anyone who volunteers, whether it’s an hour or 100 hours,” White said. “It takes a big commitment to volunteer for a year.”

Service awards were then presented to volunteers reaching five, 10 and 20 years with Pine Tree Hospice. Five-year honorees are Rita Mountain, Laura Posca, and Rhoda Taylor; Alice Bunn, Deb Drew, Ed.D., Beverly Crockett, and Pam Tower have all reached a decade; and 20-year volunteers are Dodie Curtis and Priscilla Higgins.

White said computer records only go back 11 years, and in that time Higgins has logged 2,066 hours with Pine Tree Hospice. “Based on my calculations that would mean you logged 3,760 hours over the last 20 years,” White said. “I don’t think it is a stretch to say you have logged over 4,000 hours of volunteer service.”

“It is a very special organization and it has been a lifeline and it can be for many others,” Higgins said.

Other special recognition awards were bereavement facilitator, Rita Corbin; direct care volunteer, Helen Higgins; indirect care volunteer, Jayne Sharrow; and board member, Donna Peterson.

At the conclusion of the annual meeting, Stitham recognized the Pine Tree Hospice staff. In addition to Stitham and White, staff members are administrative assistant Sherri Jackins and program assistant Pamela Pultz.

For more information on Pine Tree Hospice and its numerous services and many volunteer possibilities, please contact 564-4346 or wecare@pinetreehospice.org or go to www.pinetreehospice.org or www.facebook.com/PineTreeHospice.

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