Aside from a few times in high school I never volunteered my time to any organizations. However, this year I found Brave Heart and decided that this was an organization that I wanted to get involved with. I felt compelled by the mission statement and what Brave Heart stands for, so I took the plunge and became a volunteer! Since then, I have never looked back! I wish I was involved sooner as I really look forward to my weekly visits and the time I spend with some of the elderly residents within the community. I can really see how much the visits mean to them, and that alone makes me so proud to be apart of such a wonderful organization.
I ask myself the question "if something happens, would I know what to do?" My parents are getting older, there has been a couple scares... what are the things I need to know or start thinking about if, god forbid, their situations get worse? That was the fuel for becoming a Volunteer at Brave Heart Volunteers. The more experience I have with elder care, the more prepared I will be when it become applicable to my family.
At first, I was apprehensive about the amount of training I would be put through. I assumed it was going to be boring. It wasn't. There were discussions, a volunteer panel, experts in the industry. The amount of knowledge I gained just from the training was invaluable. They really prepare you for and get your questions answered before you know you have one.
I feel I know more about what to do now, then ever before. I also feel that when I do have future questions, or want to learn more about elder-care, they have the resources and other trainings in place where I can keep learning about what to do.
I sat with a bed-ridden lady every Thursday afternoon for 4 years, when she passed.
I think I got more out of the experience than she did. BHV trainings gave me a sound understanding of how to help and be present with the people I am serving.
I attended the Brave Heart Volunteers End of Life Education and Training program and found it to be invaluable. As a nurse, I have used the information I have learned both in the professional setting as well as personally. I learned about so much from this 30 hour training that was led by professionals from all backgrounds including doctors, therapists, professors and many others, it is hard to believe that this training is offered free of charge every year.
I recently received grief support services through Brave Heart Volunteers' licensed counselor to help support a close friend who lost someone. Learning about the grieving process and learning about things I can do to help her has made me feel comfortable in helping her through this process. I also felt supported by Brave Heart Volunteers during the whole process and am grateful I have them as a resource.
I would say that I am right in the middle of a condition that could go either way - and Brave Heart definitely pulled me over to the healthy side; they helped get me going again.
I've been 90% homebound since 2006 and maybe it does add up, but I had observed another Veteran with health issues get visited by church folks and I thought it looked like a good idea. When I heard about Brave Heart, I asked for weekly home visits.
The first one was real tough. The meeting and talking were fine as it was centered on hot coffee, the weather and how unique AK is - but afterwards, I was exhausted. I had to lay in bed for 2-3 hours completely still. It was very disruptive to my own management of my condition which only I know how to do.
Well, I recovered quickly and after the next visit, I only laid down for about an hour. And then for every visit afterward, I was usually out-the-door walking at least a few blocks through the neighborhood to clear my mind.
The visits had worked and for the rest of the 12 months, they were quite normal and there were times when I was listening to the volunteer's stories. This is in fact what I enjoyed - the give and take about the sometimes comical nature of daily living and the funny things that can happen. We were connecting.
Throughout the months, I started my own activities including online classes and learning how to walk through Sitka while always listening to Nature. It's a quiet, peaceful place and taking an hour to have coffee with someone else fits in well.
Overall, I improved. Pretty much in every category of health, energy and mind. The visits help. I do in fact recommend them. If I move back to SE Alaska, I'll sign up again. I guess I miss my visits now and I wish the Volunteer and the folks at Brave Heart best wishes. Thanks.
In 2010-11 I had the privilege of serving as an AmeriCorps Volunteer with Brave Heart Volunteers in Sitka, Alaska. BHV offers services to people facing illness, isolation, and grief. There are also volunteers especially trained to give support at the end of life.
In Sitka there is no hospice program, but through BHV and their care giving partners, all the elements of hospice care are provided. Having volunteered with the elderly for over forty years, I was impressed with the quality of care that is available for the aging population in this small community. The collaboration between BHV and other care giving agencies in Sitka is one of the community's greatest strengths.
During the last month of my service at BHV I spent much of my time introducing our new Volunteer Coordinator to our care receivers and volunteers. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to see firsthand what BHV does best. Some long term relationships date back over 8 years, starting when the care receiver was living at home and continuing at the Pioneer Home. There are many intergenerational relationships between care receivers, volunteers, and their children and grandchildren. These relationships between volunteers and care receivers and their families are at the heart of everything that Brave Heart Volunteers does. I believe that this is what makes Brave Heart Volunteers unique. And it's what I would want if I needed respite from caring for a loved one or if I needed someone to sit by my bedside at the end of my life.