Meet Holli, a TMC Hospice home care volunteer

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, Tucson Medical Center celebrates the passionate work of nearly 700 volunteers in TMC Hospice, TMC for Senior, Pet Therapy and the TMC Auxiliary. The dedicated patrons log more than 90,000 hours every year helping TMC patients have the most comfortable and pleasant experience possible, whether in the hospital or at home. Find more stories about TMC Hospice volunteers on our Facebook page.

Briefly describe yourself.
I’m Holli, and I am so fortunate to have been able to retire early and do more of those things that there was never enough time to do during my working years. I’m loving it! I’ve been traveling with my husband in our little camper/van and seeing lots of this beautiful country. I enjoy hiking with my friends (we call ourselves “a girl scout troop”), reading and doing volunteer work. I spent my career as a mental health therapist and I continue to work on the weekend at a behavioral health hospital. I am finding my retirement to be an exciting and fulfilling chapter in my life.

How long have you been a volunteer with TMC Hospice?
I have been a Hospice volunteer for two and a half years.

What role are you currently in?
I am a homecare volunteer.

Do you volunteer anywhere else currently? If so, where?
Yes, I am a reading coach with Reading Seed, a program through Literacy Connects. I spend time, weekly, reading 1:1 with 1st and 2nd graders with a goal of instilling in them a love of reading. I also volunteer each year at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Why did you choose hospice volunteer work?
During my years as a therapist I had the opportunity to help several clients’ deal with issues at the end of their lives. I found it to be some of the most rewarding work I did over the years.

I also experienced Hospice as a family member when my father and mother-in-law were dying. I found the Hospice staff to be so helpful; for me and my family. I am grateful that they were part of our support network.

What keeps you coming back? I love to hear people’s stories. I feel so privileged when patients’ and their families invite me into their lives.

Is there an experience that you have had through your volunteering with hospice that stands out? Please explain…

My first patient was a vivacious 96-year-old woman. When I met her she was feeling stronger after several months of being in and out of the hospital. She was very circumspect about her prognosis and had some things she wanted to do while she still could. #1 on her list was to feed a giraffe. We went to the Tucson Zoo and did just that. Her face lit up as the giraffe gently took the food from her hand. She was thrilled! There were other things on her list but in the week following our zoo visit she began to decline and died soon after. I am so honored to have shared that day with her.

When people say “I don’t know how you can volunteer at hospice, isn’t it sad?” What is your response?

Sad: yes, but so much more!

Any tips or suggestions for new volunteers coming in to hospice?

Be open! You may have some ideas about how you want your experience to unfold but set those expectations aside. If you allow yourself to be open to whatever presents itself, you may find the journey to be even more than you expected.

Would you like to add anything else?

Working with dying patients’ helps me to feel less fearful about the end of my life. it really clarifies how I want to make decisions about my care at the end of my life.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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