By MaryAnn Kromer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Hospice Care in Tiffin is hoping to expand its Watchman Program in area churches.
Melissa Bowers, volunteer coordinator for Community Hospice Care, said the Watchman Program began in 2001. Volunteers from a faith community must undergo a two-and-a-half-hour training session that is to be offered April 19 at the Tiffin office, 181 E. Perry St.
A brochure about the program states its goal is to identify and train at least one person in each congregation to serve as the Hospice representative within his or her church. The volunteer is to keep in touch with the congregation and convey the needs of the church family to Hospice. The watchman also should recruit volunteers from the church membership to assist those in hospice care.
"We have 21 watchmen and 15 churches involved. Some churches have more than one watchman," Bowers said.
The participating churches include Attica United Methodist and Our Lady of Hope in Attica; Bloomville United Church of Christ; Melmore United Methodist; Republic United Church of Christ; and St. Gaspar Parish in Bellevue. Fostoria churches participating are Bethel Baptist, Fostoria Nazarene, Grace United Church of Christ and Wesley United Methodist Church. Participating churches in Tiffin are Christ's Church, Redeemer Lutheran, St. Joseph Parish, St. Paul United Methodist and Trinity United Church of Christ.
Anyone interested in training for the program should contact Community Hospice Care by e-mail at email@example.com or call (419) 447-4040.
Evelyn Daniel is a watchman at St. Joseph Church, along with Paul Steinmetz. Daniel said she has volunteered for Hospice for more than 20 years. When the program began, Hospice asked her to take on the watchman ministry.
"When they first started the program, they sent out notices to try and get the different churches represented. Some responded, and some didn't," Daniel said.
She explained Hospice sends out letters to inform her and the pastor when a parishioner is entering hospice care and is willing to have visits from a watchman.
Daniel said the pastor usually contacts her to confirm the letter has arrived. She may stop out to pray with the person or take care of other needs of the client or the family.
"We don't do it unless a letter comes from Hospice saying that they're in Hospice and they agreed to have us represent the church or the organization," Daniel said. "I will go to any of our parishioners that really need it. I represent St. Joe's, but I have gone to other ones in St. Mary's or non-Catholics. If they need help and I can do something, I usually go. Some of them just want visits once in awhile."
The number of visits depends on the wishes of each client. On occasion, the pastor will contact the watchman about a parishioner in Hospice without receiving a letter. Confidentiality is essential for watchmen volunteers.
Daniel said the watchmen usually know the clients better than the Hospice nurses, so they are able to relay to the nurse a need for equipment, supplies or a different treatment option for the client, or perhaps counseling for the family. Daniel said the work can be difficult at times, but she finds it very rewarding.
"Most of the families are very receptive. You're going in at a trying time when someone is diagnosed and may not have long to live. They open your arms to you," Daniel said.