October 5, 2014

The Heartbeat of Hospice: An Interview with a LightBridge Volunteer

Everyday at LightBridge we are amazed at the love, time and talent our volunteers give to our patients.  One such volunteer was Andrea Briseño.  Andrea volunteered for 7 months with LightBridge.  She not only touched the lives of our patients, but the lives of those who worked with her at the LightBridge Offices.  We would like to share an interview we had with Andrea about her choice to volunteer with LightBridge.   Please, enjoy. 

Are you local to San Diego?  Yes, I live in Ramona, CA.

Why did you choose to volunteer with LightBridge?

I was drawn to a course taught by Lori Montross called PSYC 495: Field Experience in Psychology my senior year at California State University San Marcos. I wanted to engage in hands-on learning and open myself up to a new experience. A representative from a handful of hospices in the area spoke to our class on behalf of their organization. Tauna spoke in my class on behalf of LightBridge and I knew that it was the one I wanted to volunteer with. She radiated a love for life and a genuine love for her profession. I later learned that Wendy shares the same love and humility that is so enticing.


How long have you volunteered with LightBridge?

I was one of the students placed at LightBridge at the end of January 2014- I was finished with paperwork, etc. and had my 1st patient by the first week of February (so, 7 months).


What was something that you feel you were able to give to your patient/patients?

I believe as a volunteer I have been blessed with resources because I was taught very useful tools in my PSYC 495 class as well as invaluable training from LightBridge. I used textbook therapeutic skills that we learned in class such as minimal encouragers, paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, open and closed ended questions, echo, and silence. Additionally, LightBridge trained me in being present and observant. I made a point to be attentive and ask questions (with genuine interest) about items in my patients’ rooms, which really encouraged positive memories/reminiscing.

As far as a material gift, today my patient told me that our poetry album with a collection of ~60 poems that we have been putting together since my 1st visit, is the most personal gift she has ever received and she will cherish it forever. It now includes photos from our Safari Park trip as wells as comments and side notes.


What was something that you took with you from volunteering with Hospice?

As cliché as it is, this experience has taught me to appreciate every single breath I take, and never take a single moment for granted. My female patient lit a spark that had faded after the death of my first patient. I almost feel guilty for being sad about death because it takes away from time spent appreciating the magnificence of life. The love and tenderness that my patient emulates is unbelievable considering her difficult upbringing. She has the ability to make me feel completely euphoric after each visit, solely because of the way she carries herself and treats the people around her. When someone like that crosses your path, it motivates you to have that same effect on the people in your life. I am forever grateful.


What was one of your most special moments or memories?

A special memory I hold from the beginning of this journey is from the bereavement process after my 1st patient died. After an hour of trying to pack his belongings, his wife and I dropped everything and just drove to Marie Calendar’s for a slice of pie. We just talked and talked until our tears turned to laughter, and that is a memory I will always share with her.

However, I would have to say that memory is tied with the special day I spent with my female patient at the Safari Park; and it only becomes more special every time we recount our favorite moments, reminisce, and look through our little photo album of the trip.


Where are you going off to College?

On September 22nd I will begin my studies at Loma Linda University to earn my PhD in Clinical Psychology.

If Volunteering at LightBridge is something that has been on your heart please visit us at Volunteer LightBridge and fill out an application.  There is no greater gift than to touch the lives of the ones around us.