Christmas in the summer
Volunteers help to brighten days
Lauren Branas, Hartselle Enquirer
Santa Claus stopped in Hartselle on his way to the beach last week.
On a gloomy and rainy summer afternoon, PJ Grantland, 13, a youth volunteer, played "Santa" and brought Jessie Owen, 89, of Hartselle a bag of goodies to brighten her day. The goody bag contained a box of tissue, a makeup bag, candles, candy, snacks, bookmarks and dental hygiene items, which Owen joked she couldn't use anymore.
She also received a red Santa's hat because Hospice of the Valley had brought her "Christmas in June."
Grantland is volunteering with Morgan County Volunteer Center and has been making the rounds to Hospice of the Valley patients with his father and grandmother.
Owens was delighted with the attention and gifts and exuded warmth and friendliness.
"So much has been done for me lately," Owens exclaimed.
It was time for the tables to turn.
"She's always been the kind to help other people," Owen's daughter Margarue Garner said.
She described her mother as being the "911 of Danville," saying her mother would drive people to the hospital to have babies.
"If people needed help, they would call her. They knew they could count on her," Garner said.
Owen talked about people she knew and reminisced about the good times she remembered. She laughingly told everyone she wished she could see them, but she's legally blind.
Owen's energetic social worker, Diane Gray, described Owen as extremely outgoing and emphasized what a neat lady she is.
Gray comes in and provides emotional support to Owen and her family. Garner, Owen's primary caregiver, is thankful for Hospice.
"It works!" Garner said. "They've helped me so much."
Garner's house is painstakingly adorned with pictures of her family. She creatively decorated her house, seemingly alive with pleasant scents wafting from her candles.
Volunteers help revive the spirits of Hospice patients by giving time and gifts year-round, not just during Christmas in June.
The Hospice of the Valley is a non-profit organization that helps terminally ill patients and their families. They have a variety of services and sometimes provide medication and equipment. Most importantly, Hospice provides medical, emotional and spiritual support to the patients and their families. Hospice offers support groups for people going through grieving periods, and even a summer camp called Camp Hope for children who have experienced loss.
Hospice workers and volunteers often provide an eager ear or take over for the deserving caregiver.
Hospice services are covered partially by many insurance providers, Medicare and Medicaid, and also rely on community support. One supporter is the United Way.
Hospice of the Valley supports Morgan and Lawrence counties and is located at 216 Johnston St SE in Decatur. To volunteer, contact Carolyn Loshuertos at 350-5585. Also visit their web site for more information at www.hospiceofthevalley.net.