Hospice volunteer provides consolation, information


April 04, 1993

Margaret Campbell of Westminster has volunteered for five years with Carroll Hospice, an organization that helps terminally ill people and their families.

Mrs. Campbell has now helped 21 people live their final months as fully as possible.

Sometimes she runs errands, picking up groceries or prescriptions or taking people to medical appointments. Other times, people want her to read to them, or talk with them about the deep questions surrounding life and death.

Mrs. Campbell also provides information on support services and helps, when she can, with funeral arrangements. In addition, she has volunteered her time in the office of Carroll Hospice.

Organization's comments: Kathy Bare, who works with volunteers at Carroll Hospice, calls Mrs. Campbell "a delight.

"Margaret really does embody the hospice spirit of compassion," she said, adding that Mrs. Campbell is "a very kind, gentle, loving person, but competent at the same time, which is a real neat balance."

Ms. Bare said, "For a person who's supposed to be retired, she's one of the busiest people I know," adding that Mrs. Campbell's activities are always geared toward helping others.

Mrs. Campbell's volunteer file is the thickest of any at the hospice, Ms. Bare said, because she has taken on so many cases and because so many people have written to express appreciation for her help.

One relative of a Hospice client helped by Mrs. Campbell wrote: "I especially want to thank Margaret Campbell for all that she did for Mother, and for the unselfish giving of her time, energy and love. . . ."

Volunteer's comments: "I was a little bit skeptical that I couldhandle the situation" at first, Mrs. Campbell said. But with training, and five years and 21 patients later, she said, "I guess it worked for me."

"You sit there, and you listen," she said.

Mrs. Campbell said that if the person wants to discuss religion, she reads up on whatever religion the patient is interested in.

"Some of them want you to read the Bible," she said. "In dying, that's when many people do come to evaluate their spiritual life, you might say. . . . But they have to initiate that."

She said one thing she has learned is that life is precious to everyone, no matter how ill or old.

Her work can be draining, she said, but added, "The volunteers have a support group, also . . . and it's really excellent."

Also, she said, the experience is satisfying. "You're doing something," she said. "You don't just dwell on a person dying. You're helping them to live until they die."

Volunteer's background: Mrs. Campbell, 71, has one daughter and two grandchildren. She worked at Black & Decker Corp. in Towson and in Hampstead for 18 years. She worked at St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church in Manchester for 16 years, part of that time as administrator of religious education.

She is a member of St. John's Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, where she participates in the health ministry, visiting sick parishioners and taking Communion to people who cannot travel.

To nominate someone as Volunteer of the Week, call 751-7900 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may

be faxed to the office at 751-7916.

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