TRAVERSE CITY, Mi. (WPBN/WGTU) -- When you walk into Munson Hospice House in Traverse City there's an immediate sense of tranquility.
"Hospice is comfort care at the end of life. It's all about making sure the patient's symptoms are managed. It's all about increasing their quality of life as they near end of life," says Munson Hospice volunteer coordinator, Kjirsten Boeve.
The Hospice House was built in 2004. It's open to people who need end of life care and can't get that at home or in a hospital setting. Eight private rooms look out to natural areas to create a serene atmosphere. Other private areas including a meditation room give a sense of comfort for patients and their families during such an intimate time. It's the volunteers who are at the heart of the program.
"Volunteers provide companionship, a level of friendship and even help with family members," says Boeve.
Boeve says there's a need for volunteers to help with everything from paperwork to providing one on one companionship or simply playing music to calm a patient's mind.
"There's such a need in this area. It's such a service and an honor and a privilege I think to be invited into a patient's life," says Boeve.
Mary Lou Harding has been volunteering with the Munson Hospice program before Hospice House even opened.
"We make our breakfasts here, answering the phone. Mostly I do haircuts in the home or Hospice House," says Harding.
For Harding the experience isn't what you might think.
"It's not sad experience. If they're dying it's very peaceful and the families enjoy that also," says Harding.
Eileen Dunn takes on a different role with her volunteer service. Having a nursing background she thrives on patient interaction.
"We've had several who were here for quite some time, and they became like family and we became part of their family. I think you have to be able to give part of yourself away. You have to have compassion. I think when you give a part of yourself away you get so much more back," says Dunn.
Each volunteer brings a unique quality to help people and their loved ones feel at ease during a time we'll all experience at some point in our life. Boeve says it brings out a common bond.
"Resiliency or the ability to put some boundaries around yourself. It's a balance on being able to fully engage with a patient and their family as well as keep that emotional tie to a minimum and also have a large support system," says Boeve.
Munson Hospice serves 24 counties across northern Michigan. If you're interested in volunteering with the program you can call: (800) 252-2065.
You can also check out the hospice website by clicking here.