January 5, 2017

Shining Lights of LightBridge: What Makes LightBridge Volunteers So Special

Our volunteers—or Shining Lights, as we call them—are truly valued members of our hospice and palliative care team. While each volunteer brings a unique set of talents and gifts to our team, they all have huge hearts and really care about the patients they support. It is truly incredible the way our volunteers devote their time to providing care and companionship on a personal, deeply meaningful level.

We never know the impact our volunteers are going to have when they start down a path with a patient. To be a LightBridge volunteer, you do not necessarily need to have a certain set of skills to bring companionship and comfort to our patients—as long as you meet each patient with an open and caring heart, we believe there will always be the opportunity to connect and bring joy to the patient.

And while we might be partial, there are so many reasons our volunteers are truly amazing and such an essential part of the LightBridge team. 

Our Volunteers Are Diverse

Our volunteers are as varied as they can be by age, interests, and backgrounds. Our team is made up of everyone from inventors and real estate brokers, to college professors, nursing students, and even high school students. An interesting fact about our team is that the majority of them are the first-born in their family, and many of them have owned dogs.

At LightBridge, we also have a group of veteran and active-duty military volunteers who join us in providing a variety of activities and companionship for our service men and women. 

Their Roles Are Varied 

Our volunteers take on several roles to help support our programs, but their primary job is to provide companionship to our patients. They do not provide patient care—that’s a job for our nurses. Volunteers may do any number of activities including reading, writing letters, caregiver respite, running errands, or just visiting with a new friend.

We offer varied areas of service, so our volunteers can use their own special talents and interests to provide specialized programs to our patients. We have some volunteers who do pet therapy, healing touch, energy work, Reiki, and art projects, and some volunteers who play music with or for patients. There are also office opportunities available, where volunteers can do behind-the-scenes clerical work that supports our patients and programs. 

Our military volunteers bring a unique focus to the time they spend with our veteran patients, as they truly understand the military experience and what military service means. They also provide assistance with our Veteran’s Honors Ceremonies, where we honor a veteran’s service with a formal program and celebration to thank them and acknowledge their services to our country. Our No Veteran Dies Alone program connects volunteers with veterans who do not have family locally, to provide support during their final days.

Their Training is Extensive 

Because quality is important in every aspect of care and companionship at LightBridge, we make sure our volunteers are well trained before introducing them to patients. Each volunteer undergoes an extensive background check as well as 16 hours of training time.

We ensure that our volunteers are comfortable with going out into the community, and that they are equipped to handle the sensitive circumstances they might find. It is our priority that every interaction is as meaningful and fulfilling as possible, for our patients, their families and volunteers.

Their Impact is Huge

One volunteer, who has been with LightBridge for several years now, was working with a patient who had recently been homeless and had decided to discontinue his dialysis treatment. As she was leaving his room, he told her he wanted her to meet Phil. As it turns out, Phil was the patient’s Philodendron plant, his most important possession. The patient asked our volunteer to find a place to keep Phil after he was gone. Because our volunteer truly cared so much, she reached out to her friends and the community and was able to get enough donations to build an entire garden for Phil, and they were able to do it before the patient passed. This act of kindness brought joy to his heart and a big smile on his face.

A lot of times, our volunteers are someone’s last new friend and a confidant during their time of struggle. The impact you can have on a patient’s life as a LightBridge volunteer is often immeasurable.

We invite you to experience the joy you can receive from volunteering with a patient at the end of their life. If you are interested in volunteering at LightBridge or would like to receive more information, fill out our Volunteer Application online, or call us at (858) 458-2992.

By: Tauna Austin, MS, Volunteer Program Manager