The first time I heard of the word “hospice” was in 1980, just six years after Connecticut Hospice, the first hospice in the U.S., opened in Branford, Connecticut. It was there that my mother, a”h, spent the last days of her life when it became too difficult for my father to care for her.
In August I sat in on a training program for volunteers at Gilchrist Hospice Care, Maryland’s largest hospice organization. It gave me a fascinating glimpse into both the world of hospice care and Gilchrist’s new Jewish outreach initiative. Mrs. Chaya Lasson, recently hired as Jewish Hospice Program Manager, arranged the training, and approached Jewish Caring Network and Bikur Cholim of Baltimore to cosponsor it.
“We thought we’d have 15 or 20 participants at the volunteer training event,” says Mrs. Lasson. “In fact, we had 65 and had to close our registration!” She is grateful for the partnership with Bikur Cholim and the JCN and hopes this will be the beginning of many more such collaborations. “Volunteers are vital and essential for the peace of mind of patients’ family members. We hope that this initial training program will encourage the participants to join the Gilchrist volunteer team.”