BJC Hospice volunteers give from the heart
Brenna Doyle
/ Categories: BJC Hospice

BJC Hospice volunteers give from the heart

If you have the time, BJC Hospice has the volunteer opportunity.

Adult and teen volunteers are needed to help with everything from visiting patients to providing office support to making blankets. No special skills are required, and volunteers receive training and guidance every step of the way.

If you do have a special skill, however, BJC Hospice can probably find a way to put it to use. Here’s how some of our volunteers have found ways to serve.

Helping patients live in the moment

Pam Scholl began volunteering at Evelyn's House in 2019, greeting visitors at the front desk, helping with mailings and spending time with patients and their families. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so there was a short break, but now Scholl does weekly home visits with patients. During the visits, she practices Reiki, a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of directing energy to help facilitate the person's own healing response.

“Spending time with patients who are in hospice is touching the sacred for me,” Scholl says. “Whether they have faded into the unknown of dying or are resisting with all their strength, talking to them about their lives, families and fears and enjoying their stories is living in the moment."

Scholl says a special memory from Evelyn's House stays with her. “I had entertained a child in the playroom while the family spent time with their loved one who was a patient. One day I came in and was walking past the art room and the child ran to the door with a smile and said, 'There is my friend,'” recalls Scholl.

“We did an art project together and while we were in the art room, the family's loved one passed away. I found the family and told them I was sorry for their loss, and we cried and hugged together, sharing our grief. It was a moment I will always remember," Scholl says. "I never saw them again, but I hope the family is doing well. There was a lot of love there."

Scholl says she has held the hands of many patients who are silent and inside themselves, but she finds a deep connection by simply being there with them. “And what I enjoy the most with volunteering is that while I am being present for them, they are giving me even more by sharing whatever they are feeling at the time,” she says.

Helping nurses so they have more time with patients

Ron Gardiner began volunteering in early 2019, shortly before retiring, doing a variety of tasks, including home respite care, home companionship visits, deliveries of cakes, balloons or gifts to patients celebrating milestone events, and delivering snacks to patients and their families at Evelyn’s House.

“My favorite job now is answering phones and the front door at Evelyn’s House,” says Gardiner. “I get to sit in the nurse's 'bullpen' and interact with them daily, and I also get to talk with each visitor who comes to the house. 

“I feel a part of the team and a camaraderie with the nurses in an effort to serve the patients,” Gardiner adds. “There is a sign in the office space that never fails to move me. It says, ‘Nurse — because Angel is not a job title,’ which is so true. I admire the nurses so much and want to do whatever I can to make their jobs easier and allow them to focus more time with their patients.

“When I'm at the front desk, I interact with each of the visitors, saying hello or at least sharing a smile,” Gardiner says. “One evening a visitor was talking with another relative and I didn't recognize the language. Over the next several days, our brief interactions became longer and I was enjoying our visits. One evening before I left, I silently prayed for the visitor and patient. A few days later, I found out that the patient had passed away.

"A brief interaction created a bond for me that stretches to somewhere in the world to this day," Gardiner adds. "There are so many debts that I owe to others, and hospice allows me to give back a little.”

Huge heart for helping others

Stella Ashcraft, known as "Ms. Stella" to everyone, has been volunteering since 2016, helping with office duties, companion sitting, and delivering flowers, cakes or balloons to patients with milestone celebrations.

“I started volunteering because of my father,” Ashcraft says. “I was his caregiver for some time and when he chose hospice for his care, I knew I didn’t want him to be alone. I was holding my father’s hand I prayed and asked God to please let me be there as my father transitioned so he would not be alone, and I would pay it forward. My prayers were answered. No one should ever be alone when it is their time to go, even it if just means holding someone’s hand, singing them a song, reading to them or painting their nails, so they are not alone. It is a great joy and a blessing to be able to help those in hospice and I am grateful that I can do this.”

Ashcraft says every volunteer and patient she has worked with has touched her heart. “I remember a patient I was asked to sit with who was not very responsive, so I started out just sitting and talking with the patient,” Ashcraft recalls. “Each visit after that we did a little more, listened to music, watched television together, and the patient's spirit was uplifted with each visit I made. We interacted, we smiled and laughed together, and each visit the patient thanked me for coming. I felt like I really did something wonderful, even it was something so simple.

“Volunteering for BJC Hospice provides me the opportunity to impart compassion, caring and company to others and let them know there are people who care.”

‘Make a call’

In 2019, Scholl was at a poetry writing retreat at a Buddhist monastery and wanted to volunteer in hospice after reading about death and dying. So, when she saw a monk walking across a bridge at the monastery, she asked the monk, “I want to volunteer with hospice patients. What should I do?"

"He told me to ‘make a call,’" Scholl says. "I did make a call, to BJC, and it was the best advice I have ever received. Make the call. Volunteer. You will be forever changed.”


Hospice needs the following volunteers:

  • Volunteers who live in north St. Louis, north St. Louis County, St. Charles, Wentzville, Steeleville, Cuba, and Farmington, Missouri and the surrounding areas,
  • Volunteers who live in Madison, St. Clair, Monroe, Calhoun, Greene, Jersey and Macoupin counties in Illinois
  • Licensed beauticians who can wash and cut hair in patients’ homes
  • Licensed massage therapists for patients in their homes and at Evelyn’s House
  • Those who have successfully completed training in Healing Touch or Reiki
  • Certified therapy dogs who are willing to visit patients in their homes
  • Those who would enjoy making cards, or no-sew fleece blankets for patients who are military veterans. Volunteers would be responsible for providing their own paper, markers, fabric, etc.
  • Volunteers to make calls, visit with patients, office help and those who can sew pillows and teddy bears.  

All prospective volunteers must submit an application, undergo an interview and background check, attend an orientation to learn about hospice operations and the volunteer program, receive a TB test and flu shot, and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you’re interested in becoming a BJC Hospice volunteer, apply online at, or call 877.227.8718.

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