NBC26 Cares: Hospice with Heart
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
If life is measured in memories made, 84-year-old Betty Rentmeester has lived hers to the fullest. She was a loving wife, mother of seven and grandmother to 21. But about a year ago, they almost lost her to heart disease.
"You know, we had lost our dad about a year before and so it was difficult to go through that and to possibly lose our mom as well. It was hard," said Betty's son, Paul Rentmeester.
The family found comfort through Heartland Hospice in De Pere. They credit volunteers like Joni Van Drisse with Betty's amazing recovery.
Betty says, "She's wonderful. She always spruces up my day when she comes to visit."
Betty's daughter adds, "To see her happy, to see her thriving, it's almost like a miracle."
Touched by the hospice care her grandmother received, Joni wanted to pay it forward by becoming a volunteer.
"When I drive away after my visit with Betty, I think, 'Well what did I do for Betty?' I mean I just feel so full. I just feel like a completely different person, because I've learned so much from her," said Joni.
"Our volunteers are so important because they're the people that come in and they bring a smile to the patient's face. They're that socialization. They're that companionship," said Jared Hause, Volunteer Coordinator for Heartland Hospice.
They're also a support system for the families when the end is near. Marla Dahlke donates about 10 hours a week as a vigil volunteer. She sits at the bedside of patients who are actively dying.
"It just feels like I should be there to hold their hand, so that they're not alone."
Marla says it's a privilege and an honor, but she admits that the job can wear on your emotions.
"Sometimes it's tough when you meet the family, you know the family. But it's easy sometimes because you know that person doesn't have to suffer anymore."
It's a network of caring that Betty's son is grateful for.
"We try to get here as much as we can, but they make up for all of the voids when we can't be here."
And thanks to volunteers like Joni, Betty and her family can look forward to making more memories together.
"They're just so uplifting and so kind and so caring. We just couldn't ask for anything better for our mom," said Carol Degrand.
Heartland Hospice also uses music and pet therapy volunteers. They have 75 volunteers across Northeast Wisconsin right now, but they're always looking for more.
Click here for more information... http://www.heartlandhospice.com/greenbay