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Wauwatosa man earns volunteer of the year award

Nov. 8, 2012

WAUWATOSA, Wis. – A Wawatosa man was recently honored for his volunteerism in an area hospice program.

Harding Bond, 73, was recognized by Hospice Organization and Palliative Experts of Wisconsin as a Volunteer of the Year. Bond has been a volunteer for the hospice program at Wauwatosa senior living community Luther Manor for three years. He was nominated for the award by Hospice Program Volunteer Coordinator Gail Jacobsen.

“Harding has a sincere and gentle way that is evident to anyone he meets,” Jacobsen said. “He understands how to walk alongside people as they travel on their end of life journey. “

Volunteer of the Year awards were presented in two categories: organizational support services and direct patient care. Bond was recognized in the latter category.

“It’s that one-on-one connection; that is what I like the most,” Bond said.

Bond first started volunteering at Luther Manor after his mother died. He spent five years living with her in Wauwatosa and acting as her caretaker.

“When she died, I went from having very busy days to days that were empty,” Bond said. “For about nine months I vegetated. I was getting depressed and I gained 15 pounds. I realized I had to do something.”

Bond’s introduction to volunteering was in the Luther Manor Health Care Center where he delivered cookies and coffee to residents. He often found himself talking with residents who were alone. It was during this time that he discovered his true calling as a hospice volunteer.

But being a hospice volunteer isn’t for everyone.

“You really have to be in touch with your morality to do it, I think,” Bond said. “I am. Death is a part of life, it is natural. ”

When Bond meets with hospice patients, he said he will spend anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours with a person - whatever the situation calls for.

“I never take my watch with me so I am not hindered by the concept of time,” Bond said. “It is what it is. Some people want to talk, others don’t want to be bothered. Some can’t communicate. For those people a gentle touch and a prayer go a long way.”

Bond is on the volunteer schedule two days a week, but he finds himself coming in more often.

“I know what I am doing is meaningful to the people I serve but volunteering is a two-way street,” he said. “It’s good to give, but when you go home at the end of the day you leave with more than you started with. It’s impossible to give it all back.”

Efforts to spread awareness about the importance of hospice volunteerism will increase this month, which is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Bond is one of six hospice volunteers at Luther Manor.

“We’d love to have more,” Jacobsen said.

For more information about becoming a hospice volunteer contact Luther Manor Volunteer Services Coordinator Cheryl Schmitz at (414) 464-3880 ext. 500 or email volunteer@luthermanor.org

An accredited senior living community, Luther Manor has been caring and advocating for seniors for more than 50 years. In addition to apartment homes, assisted living and long-term care options, Luther Manor offers rehabilitation, adult day and supportive services, hospice care and community outreach programs. For more information, call (414) 464-3880 or visit www.luthermanor.org.

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