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To Give Back is to Grow: Finding Balance                             

Susan Deschamps, Volunteer since 2000

"It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes its claim upon one’s heart, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, emanations from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. "

R.L. Stevenson

This is one of the quotes that I have read to clients before we begin our Friday morning “Healing Hikes” in the lovely Sheppard’s Bush.  This Wellness Program is designed for all clients who are able to walk for a least 15 to 60 minutes, and is open to Volunteers as well. It is an opportunity  to spend some time in nature experiencing its healing properties. My goal as Companion is to try to ease a client’s daily worries, pains and sadness by leading them gently along the winding paths - observing, chatting and testing whatever limited physical abilities we may have.  We stop along the way to feel the sun on our hands and faces, to listen to the stream or birdsong, to examine the new growth of wildflowers in spring or admire the snow on the trees in winter.  It’s an opportunity for us all to think beyond ourselves and maybe “lighten our load” for even just a few minute

It’s a simple thing and yet for clients struggling to find order in the chaos of their lives it can be a first step back toward normality. Fellowship, quiet contemplation and sharing of thoughts in this type of setting is indeed restful and refreshing. I try to find an upbeat note upon which to send the clients off on the rest of their day, reminding them always to “do something for yourself today”.

Even though the rest of my volunteer tasks with hospice are not client based, they are always client-centred. I have been privileged to “try my hand” at any number of tasks. This has given me a fascinating vantage point from which to view HKARH. I have spent many hours listening to, and engaging with the professional staff members, chatting about programs and policies and writing reports and always, always planning for the future. The client is never far from mind.

It has been a wonderful experience for me – testing my abilities, keeping my administrative skills sharpened and feeling a part of a strong and caring organization. What my 17 years as a hospice volunteer has given my life is balance – a reminder that I am part of the wider world.


"Begin each day with a little courage, a little curiosity and a little spring in your step!"       Doe Zantamata

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