Last updated: October 11. 2013 11:49PM - 1701 Views
Jeff Phillips Staff Writer

Vicki Prince, right, works with volunteer Ashley Bledsoe at the agency's Harlan office.
Vicki Prince, right, works with volunteer Ashley Bledsoe at the agency's Harlan office.
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Vicki Prince will soon mark her fifth anniversary as coordinator of volunteer services for Hospice of the Bluegrass.

“It has given me a new perspective on death and dying. It has made me appreciate each day even more,” said Prince, whose primary duties are to recruit and train volunteers in Harlan, Bell, Knox, Whitley, Clay and Laurel counties.

“Volunteers are vital to hospice. We are required by Medicare to have volunteers. That was something done in 1982 when they enacted the Hospice Medicare Benefit. It is to help cut costs, but it is much more than that. It is the satisfaction of doing something to help someone else… That is what you get back out of it.”

Volunteers serve in various capacities, but respite care services are needed.

“We have so many caregivers who are tired. Some of them are 24/7 caregivers. Maybe they need a break to go get their hair done or to go to an appointment. Having someone there to help is so important. Some don’t have family and just need someone to talk to.”

Prince said some “are reluctant to commit to something, or they are afraid of saying the wrong thing around a hospice patient or not knowing what to say or how to say it.”

She provides training for the volunteers. Depending on interests, she either sends them to help at patients’ homes, the nursing home or assigns duties in the office.

As with most service organizations, Price said hospice struggles with recruiting and retention of volunteers.

“We need more volunteers,” she said. “We want to find people who are compassionate and caring and who sincerely want to be of service to the community to just help somebody. I know those people are out there. It is just reaching those particular people.”

Hospice has no age requirements for volunteering. “We have teen volunteers as young as 13 to 14 years old volunteer in the offices or go to nursing homes,” she said. “We have volunteers who cook and sew. We’ve had volunteers in their 70s and 80s who visit with people in their home or nursing home… They can be a companion to give the caretaker a break.”

A native of Georgia, Prince is a member of the chambers of commerce in her service counties. A Rotarian, she serves on the Harlan County Community Education Council and is a past board member of the Harlan Rotary Club. She has volunteered in the local Reading Buddies program.

Prince and her husband, John, have two sons and a daughter. Her hobbies include reading and travel. She enjoys basketball and football.

To volunteer, call Prince at 573-6111 or visit www.hospicebg.org to complete an application.

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