A week ago Thursday was my first class for volunteers at Hoffman Hospice. Besides myself, there were about 3 or 4 other ladies there that were going to class in hopes of becoming pet therapy volunteers. Their dogs had not yet taken any of the required tests, so they were there to get started on their training. There were also a couple of other ladies that were just going to be regular volunteers.
We were each given a thick binder titled "In-Home Volunteer Training". We skimmed through the first three chapters and watched a couple of videos. I was not prepared for the emotions that came bubbling up in me. Everything reminded me of when my own parents died, when my husband's dad passed away, his uncle, and even my oldest sister's husband and my brother's mother in law, but especially my mom because I was deeply involved in that situation. For three hours I was fighting the tears and constantly wiping at the corners of my eyes. I noticed a few of the other women seemed to be in the same situation, but not as bad as myself. Whew! I vowed to be a little more steeled for the next class.
Our volunteer handbook.
Before we left that night we were instructed to read the first three chapters and do the worksheet at the end of those chapters. What? Homework? I HATE homework! That sobered me up.
Look how thick it is.
I didn't open the binder until Monday. Partly a great avoidance technique I'm particularly good at, and partly because we were gone over the weekend. I figured if I do one chapter a day, I'll have it done by Thursday. I also employed a sneaky method I'd figured out from my school days. Usually questions at the end of the chapter come in order that the answers appear in the chapter. So I read the first question and read the chapter until I found the answer. It works pretty well.
Homework page at the end of each chapter.
Last night was my second night. Good thing I did my homework because Kim, the volunteer coordinator and our instructor, collected everybody's papers!! We had two new people. I think they had started before but weren't able to finish at that time. We also lost all the other pet therapy people. One lady's dogs didn't pass the temperament testing. (They will be able to retest later if the owner wants to try again.) The other ladies realized it was going to be more involved than they thought and decided to pass on the volunteering for now. In all honesty, I can't say I blame them. I've mentioned before how I'm not much of a "people person" and this whole going to visit the dying people thing really scares me. Not because they are dying but because I'm not a very good conversationalist, particularly with people I don't know. If it weren't for Gus I probably wouldn't do it either.
Kim suggested everyone start a journal, just to write down thoughts, feelings, etc. I wonder if this blog counts? But one thing I won't be able to do here is write about specifics of when I start visiting. That is due to confidentiality laws of course. Also I don't think I want to share my deepest, darkest secrets with the whole world. But I do know that just from doing this little blog as I have been it's been fun and therapeutic in a strange way. How odd that I have trouble talking to people face-to-face, yet I can gab away in print.
Okay, I have to do two chapters before next week's class, that means I can do one chapter Wednesday, the next chapter Thursday morning...