Guest Post by Roberta MacDonald
About 30 miles south of the Canadian border, in sight of New York’s majestic Adirondacks Mountains, continuing south for about 55 miles along the east coast of (the fifth Great Lake as Senator Patrick Leahy would have you call) Lake Champlain are two Vermont counties with some of our wealthiest and some of our most fragile households. Vermont Visiting Nurses Association of Chittenden/Grand Isle serves them all.
All states have VNA’s. Most folks don’t know what VNA’s do until they need home health care in collaboration with doctors, nurses, rehabilitation, social work, counseling and a myriad of other in-home support services.
My VNA’s work doesn’t end with the professionals deployed to minister to our neighbors in order to qualify for federal and insurer payment of services. Our non-profit VNA must show community support as measured by the hours and services provided by volunteers who serve to support the staff and health professionals.
I got involved with VNA by being in the right place at the right time. I was stuck in an airport in Philadelphia one winter night trying to return to Vermont after a very successful event for Cabot Creamery, my primary love AND income source. An interesting older couple got to talking about their volunteer work for VNA and their Respite House Program. “You can start in the kitchen, Roberta. They really need the help.” That was over 8 years ago now.
I love my other job at the VNA. I’m paid mightily with hugs and good tears and smiles and laughter. And that’s when I help folks who are dying. Imagine the joy juice that flows to me from the staff member who was fed when I was on kitchen duty at the hospice house, showing off by making eggs Benedict – with ingredients I brought in? Or the wife that snagged a few hours of R & R with friends while I sat with her spouse? The love that I get from serving others cannot be bought online or traded in a selling frenzy on Wall Street or even as a result of a brisk walk toward sunset.
Why am I telling you this now? Because April is National Volunteer Month, and YOU can find your volunteer heartbeat by signing up for Reward Volunteers.
Reward Volunteers was a brain bubble I had about five years ago. The point of this project is to reflect the farmers’ values in our marketing messages by honoring volunteers. We counted on a team of imaginative software folks, still with us, our awesome social media team and the volunteers from about 3,000 non-profits and REALLY inspired sponsors and donors who stock the prize list to make Reward Volunteers run. For those who don’t know Reward Volunteers, it’s a site that helps you log your volunteer hours and win prizes in the process.
I work to help folks live well to the end of their lives. What is YOUR volunteering heartbeat?