Carol Napier of Nyack began volunteering for the United Hospice of Rockland in New City in 2003. As a high school psychologist by profession, Napier has a deep understanding of how to recognize and help others in need.
At Hospice, she brings this awareness to patients and families on a weekly basis.
A native of Los Angeles, Napier now works as the school psychologist for Clarkstown North High School in New City. Her passion for helping students achieve success and cultivate strong relationships comes to bear during her weekly sessions at Hospice, where she considers this work "one of the most beautiful gifts in my life."
Napier's appreciation of and care for others cannot be understated, where her devotion to see others attain their potential resonates equally in her profession and in her volunteer work.
Why did you choose to volunteer?
In the fall of 2003, I was ordained as an interfaith minister after completing a seminary program in New York City. During the retreat at the end of the seminary program, many of my fellow seminarians shared their hospice volunteer experiences. I have always wanted to spend time with people during the intensely intimate, perhaps difficult times in their lives, as a helper. I work as a school psychologist in a high school, and think of adolescence as one of those difficult phases of life.
How did you get started?
I approached UHR about volunteer training, and signed up for the first available class. It lasted for 24 hours over a series of weeks, three hours at a time. (I believe we met twice a week for four weeks.) I have done a lot of reading about grieving, the afterlife, and so forth, including books by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. Raymond Moody. As a psychologist, I've always believed in the process of psychotherapy for myself, like internal "housekeeping," so I have also actively considered my own losses over my adult years. So the sections of the training on one's own grief process were not difficult for me. Once I was trained by Noell Goldberg, the coordinator of Volunteers at UHR (and an absolutely brilliant teacher), I was assigned a family and got started. I spent about three hours a week with them (a mother dying at home and her adult daughter caring for her).
How do you make time to volunteer and do all the other things you have to do?
That's actually not so hard, making time for hospice volunteering. A couple of hours can be very helpful to people, and I don't push myself to work so hard at it that I might feel overwhelmed. I give what I have to give, and make it a joy and a blessing for myself so that I go with a good attitude.
Do you plan to make volunteering a part of your life in the future?
Absolutely! Hospice volunteering is a very important part of my life and weekly schedule. I wouldn't give it up for any reason.
General thoughts on volunteering experiences at Hospice:
I've encouraged a lot of my friends to do the same [volunteer at Hospice] and they've reported back to me a lot of happiness. I love the organization and think it's a very incredible and sacred thing to do. I also think it's very important to make sure that the families of the loved one's are also taken care of. Overall, I do it because I get so much out of it— it really enhances my life and makes for some wonderful friendships.
Napier mentioned how "I've kept a lot of the people I've met in my life after helping them through difficult times." This seemed to resonate with her overall appreciation for the experience of selfless work, where volunteering at Hospice isn't simply service work, it's also personally inspiring on the human and spiritual levels.
What is Hospice? What does Hospice do?
"We emphasize quality of life, comfort and dignity for individuals and families facing serious illness. Our highly skilled and compassionate team of nurses, home health aides, social workers, physicians, spiritual care providers, therapists and volunteers provide care for your loved one at home or in other settings. We also provide bereavement support services to members of our community who have lost a loved one."