Written by Gayle Mack, Community Hospice Volunteer

As volunteers, many of us have had lives full of responsibilities, whether it be with jobs or families.  At times we may have taken on too much and felt overloaded.  Somehow we learned to juggle and manage.  Always busy, there were so many expectations and people to keep happy!

Now, we enter the realm of volunteerism at Community Hospice where we see the whirlwind begin and end for many people.  Caregivers and families are very involved in crisis mode.  Employees run and work and strive to provide comfort and peace.

But as a volunteer, my experience has been one of wait and see.  What can I do?  There is a shift from being in the center of the frenzied business at hand, to stepping aside, yet still making oneself available.  Patience, and unhurried thoughtfulness are new priorities and new qualities to consider.  The frustration that comes from not knowing if you are doing enough, reminded me of the Starfish story: An older man walking at the beach was observing a young boy along the shore, stooping over and throwing something into the sea.  It seemed that hundreds of starfish had been washed up out of the ocean.  The older man knew they would not survive long and he felt saddened by the desperate state of affairs. When he reached the boy, he asks him what he is doing and the boy tells him that all these starfish have been washed ashore and he knows they will die so he is throwing them back. The older man sees the monumental task and knows they can’t all be saved.  He asks the boy, “How can you make a difference with a problem as big as this?”  As the young boy determinedly tossed one of the starfish back into the water, he replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one.”

Obviously, we can’t help everyone, but if we made positive contact with even one person, we can make a difference.  It’s not the quantity when it comes to kindness shown but the quality, and the heart intent.

Remember the Starfish Philosophy – one fish, one day at a time!

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