Hospice honors Volunteers for providing radical, loving care

Published: Dec. 29, 2016

LANSING, MI – Three Sparrow Volunteers have been honored by Sparrow Hospice Services for their outstanding service in 2016 and for providing exceptional and compassionate end-of-life care.

Alan Harris of East Lansing, Bill Kandler of Lansing, and Sue Thelen of Westphalia, relentlessly go above and beyond to offer transformative care for Patients and their families experiencing life’s final transition.

Harris is the recipient of the 2016 Home Hospice Volunteer of the Year Award. Harris joined the Hospice team in 2015, when he began visiting Patients in their homes as a Tuesday Story writer.

Tuesday Stories, inspired by the popular Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, involves interviewing Patients and writing their life’s story. It has been shown to help hospice Patients recognize the value of their lives, along with providing treasured memories for family members and future generations.

“Alan is entrusted with Patients’ memories as he writes the stories of their lives,” said Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Karen Ketola. “He has a keen ability to draw insight from Patients, and he always extends gratitude for the privilege of working so closely with them at life’s end.”

Thelen is the recipient of the 2016 Hospice House Volunteer of the Year award for providing companionship to Patients, aiding staff, and offering countless hours of assistance.

“Sue has been a Volunteer with us since 2008 and over this time has impressed everyone – Patients, families, and staff – with her kindness, conscientious nature, and willingness to undertake any task,” Ketola said. “The calming presence she brings to each Patient room is remarkable.”

Thelen assists staff by delivering food trays, feeding Patients, and checking on those who have immediate needs. She also mentors new Volunteers to Hospice House and is active in the Hospice Vigil Companion Program, spending many hours at the bedside of dying Patients who may not have family nearby.

Each year, Sparrow Hospice Services also presents the Betty Geller Award Celebrating the Spirit of Hospice Care. Kandler, the 2016 recipient, has volunteered in the program since 1998, providing companionship and comfort to both Patients and families.

He expresses an appreciation for the Caregiving staff by bringing breakfast to them each week, and serves as an ambassador for Hospice House in the mid-Michigan region.

“Bill exemplifies the Volunteer spirit of unconditional giving,” Ketola said. “His kind heart touches our Patients, their families, and our other Caregivers. His professionalism and dedication have added constant support to our program.”

Sparrow Hospice Services provides quality, compassionate care to relieve physical, mental and spiritual pain. Our comprehensive approach offers in-home care in eight counties throughout mid-Michigan, as well as an inpatient program located at Hospice House of Mid-Michigan at Sparrow Hospital at the St. Lawrence Campus.

Choose Wisely. Choose Sparrow.