By Rosie Molinary
Before May 2005, Thomas Robinson’s volunteer resume resembled that of most Americans.
He showed up whenever his son’s school needed him. He helped out with church outreach.
But the idea of really engaging with an organization had never crossed his mind until he heard an announcement one Sunday in church encouraging members to volunteer with Presbyterian Hospice and Palliative Care in Charlotte, N.C.
He wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of death, but he couldn’t help remembering how Hospice had been by his mother’s bedside ten years before.
“When [I heard] the announcement, I thought back to the experience that I had with the nurses, social workers, and volunteers and how much they cared for their patients and how much they did to help the family,” he says.
He soon completed his training to be a patient-care volunteer and began spending up to four hours a week with his assigned patient.
“I worked in an office during the day and so I felt this would allow me to get out and do different things with the patients to be able to help them in a way that matched some of my strengths,” Robinson says. “I would have the opportunity to take them out, converse with them, and encourage them.”
Since then, Robinson has maintained his commitment to working with individual Hospice patients.
He calls his patient at the beginning of each week to see how he is feeling and find out what appointments are scheduled that week.
From there, they make their plans, which range from visiting at home to going to Charlotte Bobcats basketball games.
Today, though Robinson continues volunteering with his patient for four hours a week, his responsibilities with Presbyterian Hospice and Palliative Care have grown.
Inspired by what he experienced as a volunteer, he was moved to apply for a business-systems analyst position with the group when it became available.
During his training with Hospice, he was told he could only volunteer for four hours a week with patients.
The job opening gave him the chance to give even more of his time to Hospice, he says.
“It was a family environment where employees cared about each other, and they valued life because the nature of Hospice works helps you to understand that you cannot take anything for granted,” says Robinson. “I liked the overall purpose and felt like I could make a difference if given the opportunity.”