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Hale shares the rewards of volunteering for hospice

Don Hale of Hudson has been an ADORAY Hospice volunteer for seven years. Submitted photo

"I find the hospice patients are very welcoming and very interested in talking," Don Hale said.

For the past seven years, Hale has visited with many patients in Hudson and other communities for ADORAY Home Health and Hospice, a not-for-profit agency providing care and comfort at home for the acutely, chronically and terminally ill.

Hospice is a special kind of care for patients and their families facing terminal illness who are no longer seeking treatment. The goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and dignity at the end of life by managing symptoms, and providing emotional and spiritual support.

Hale likes to talk and found he was well suited for the role of hospice volunteer. Community volunteers, like Hale, are important members of the ADORAY Hospice team. A volunteer may sit with a patient to talk or read, provide respite for the caregiver, deliver flowers, play cards or do some light housekeeping.

Hale, a former board member for Hudson's Christian Community Home became a hospice volunteer after he retired and wanted a way to help people.

"My parents needed help, they lived in a care center, and they really appreciated when people came," Hale said.

The training offered by ADORAY prepared him for "what I should and what I shouldn't do," Hale said. As a husband, with two adult children and six grandchildren, the training and hospice volunteer experience "makes me understand what's important in my life."

"Most of the patients I see are at home, which is what I prefer because then I am helping the caregiver as much as the patient," Hale said. "The caregiver gets to go out shopping or just get away for a while. They are under a lot of stress."

He spends time sitting with the patient.

"I have good discussions with them," he said. "We talk about their lives and what's going on. I like to hear about where they were born and about their family. We're having every day conversations, not talking necessarily about the end of life. We're just talking about families, just like everyone does."

Debbie Milligan, ADORAY Hospice volunteer coordinator, matches volunteers with patients and families.

"Don is a hospice volunteer I have often wished we could clone," Milligan said. "He will drive anywhere and relates extremely well with every patient and family member he encounters.

"Like Don, all of our volunteers are indispensable to the patients and families we serve, and are key members of our hospice team. Sometimes volunteers get special assignments, such as taking a patient to a bookstore or going fishing. One volunteer even helped tear down a deck and build a handicapped accessible ramp."

ADORAY offers hospice volunteer training each fall. Milligan and several others from the ADORAY staff share practical knowledge and their own experiences with hospice during the training.

"We hope both men and women will come forward to take the training," Milligan said. "And we are especially in need of veterans to help us honor the veterans on hospice."

The classes train community members to become part of the ADORAY Hospice team. Those in attendance learn the philosophy of hospice care and are taught to handle the complex challenges patients and their families face when coping with a terminal illness. The training also covers the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of death and dying.

"Our volunteers find many rewards in serving their community," Milligan said. "They have a greater appreciation of life and grow in emotional and spiritual ways."

To learn more about hospice and the role of volunteers, attend one of the information sessions presented by ADORAY Hospice. Upcoming sessions include:

--Tuesday, Sept. 18, 4-6 p.m. at the ADORAY office, 2231 Highway 12, Suite 201, Baldwin.

--Monday, Sept. 24, 7-9 p.m. at River Falls Area Hospital, Classroom A.

--Tuesday, Sept. 25, 4-6 p.m. at Amery Regional Medical Center, Boardroom.

Those who choose to become volunteers will attend two days of classes, Oct. 9 and 16, at the ADORAY office in Baldwin. For more information, call Debbie Milligan at 715-684-5020 or 800-359-0174, or email to

ADORAY,, is a not-for-profit home health and hospice agency, serving patients in St. Croix, Pierce, Western Dunn, and Polk counties for over 17 years. ADORAY is owned by Baldwin Area Medical Center; Hudson Hospital & Clinics, River Falls Area Hospital; and Westfields Hospital, New Richmond.