Volunteering for Hospice

AMOREM’s Service Podcast serves the mission to provide quality, thoughtful, loving care to patients and support to their families and to offer education and grief support to communities served. This podcast is intended to transform the way that people view and experience serious illness and end-of-life.

In episode six of AMOREM’s Service Podcast, Volunteering for Hospice, Director of Volunteer Services, Cyndi Akins, Volunteer Coordinator, Crystal Burch and Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, Lorie Fidler engage in conversation about how to become an AMOREM volunteer, responsibilities of an AMOREM volunteer and all other topics related to the volunteer services department of the organization.

The conversation begins with Akins explaining that most individuals believe that a hospice volunteer holds one job, which is direct care with patients and their families. She explains that this is not the case at all. At AMOREM there are about 20 different roles or disciplines that a volunteer can serve in. Of course, direct care is one of those many disciplines but, it is not the only capacity that a volunteer can serve in. Later in conversation, Lorie Fidler does a deep-dive on 11 roles that an AMOREM volunteer can hold.

Akins first breaks down the initial steps in becoming a volunteer with the local, non-profit, hospice and palliative care provider. The very first step is for a prospective volunteer to fill out an application, which can be done on the AMOREM website or via a tangible copy that can be mailed back to the organization. Once the application has been reviewed, volunteer services conduct what is called a “pre-training interview”. Akins explains that the word ‘interview’ feels very formal but really, this is just a phone call that allows the prospective volunteer and the team to get to know each other and learn more about the prospective volunteer's interests in hospice volunteering.

After the pre-training interview is conducted, the prospective volunteer will attend a 12-hour training which is completed over the course of 2 days. Each service area traditionally holds its own volunteer training course. These courses are also available virtually for individuals who are unable to attend the in-person training at one of AMOREM’s campuses through the AMOREM website.

During the 12-hour training, whether online or in-person, prospective volunteers are introduced to experts in each of AMOREM’s disciplines. Nurses, social workers, chaplains, members of the grief support team, medical providers and the CEO present information about AMOREM to attendees. The team also educates about how hospice began, the hospice philosophy, what to look for during the dying process and so much more. The training is in-depth and broad, making sure that no stone is left unturned.

Once training is complete, there is, of course, a bit of paperwork to be completed and a 2-step TB test. Afterward, the team conducts what they call a “post-training interview” where they discuss what was learned in volunteer training and what specific areas of service the volunteer is interested in assisting with.

Akins and her team say that some of the key characteristics that they are looking for in a volunteer include individuals who have a passion for serving, who are caring, understanding, flexible and dedicated. Another factor that they seek is an individual who is willing to jump right in after they have been onboarded.

Fidler moves the conversation into 11 of the many opportunities that are offered for volunteers through AMOREM. She explains that volunteers can serve in more ways than just these 11 but, these seem to be the most popular acts of service that prospective volunteers are interested in.


  • 11th Hour Volunteers

 These are volunteers who are present during the last 24 to 48 hours of a patient’s life. If the family chooses to have 11th-hour support, a trained volunteer will sit at the bedside and provide support to the patient and family. This is usually offered at scheduled times but can be provided on-call, as needed.

  • Grief Support Volunteers

These are volunteers who provide support to bereaved family members by making telephone calls, writing cars, making home visits and attending or facilitating support groups when requested by the grief support staff.

  • Legacy Volunteers

These are volunteers who videotape patients sharing their life stories which are then shared with the family so that their legacy can live on. These stories can be written on paper, recorded or videotaped.

  • Administrative Volunteers

These volunteers assist administrative staff by typing, filing, making copies and other various in-office tasks. These schedules are arranged by volunteers and team members based on office needs and availability.

  • Thrift Store Volunteers

Thrift volunteers serve at Thrifts & Gifts in downtown Valdese. In this space, volunteers assist with sorting, pricing, organizing, cleaning and greeting customers.

  • Patient and Family Volunteers

This is divided between companionship and caregiver relief volunteers. The primary care team will assess for a volunteer to become a part of the team. The volunteer is then able to provide companionship and support or caregiver relief. Volunteers usually spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours with a patient.

  • Patient Care Unit Volunteer

These volunteers serve at one of AMOREM’s three patient care units by assisting with taking phone calls, sitting with patients, delivering items to patient’s rooms, greeting guests at the door and more.

  • Veterans Honoring Veterans

These are volunteers who are veterans of the Armed Services and trained to complete a presentation in honor of patients who are also veterans. At the presentation, the volunteer will give the veteran patient an American flag, a handmade lapghan, a framed certificate with the veteran's branch of Service on it and a lapel pen.

  • Vigil Music Volunteers

These are trained volunteers who provide support to patients in an AMOREM patient care unit by playing music for the patient. Sometimes, this is as simple as playing a CD recording and other times, the volunteer will play an instrument at the bedside.

  • VolunTEENS

These are students who are in 9th-12th grade and have attended the 12-hour volunteer training. These teens serve on the patient care units, in long-term care facilities, they host special parties like bingo and do special classes for AMOREM patients.

  • Ambassador Volunteers

These are volunteers who are recommended by their church or congregation to act as a liaison between AMOREM and their faith community.

Burch and Fidler explain that an AMOREM volunteer can participate in as many of these opportunities as they would like. They do not have to stick to one discipline throughout their entire time as an AMOREM volunteer. They even explain that many AMOREM volunteers wear many hats and participate in more than one opportunity at a time. There is also continued education offered to all AMOREM volunteers. The volunteer services team hosts in-services throughout the year to freshen up the skills and knowledgebase of their volunteers.

The volunteer team also holds multiple events throughout the year to keep volunteers active and engaged with members of the organization. A few of these events include things like picnics at local parks, round-table discussions, meet and greets with staff members in each service area and classes hosted by AMOREM experts. The team also hosts an annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet to honor the volunteers who have selflessly served throughout each year.

The team closes out the conversation by encouraging community members to reach out to them with any questions about volunteering at AMOREM.

If you are interested in becoming an AMOREM volunteer or in learning more about volunteer services with AMOREM, please visit www.amoremsupport.org/volunteer or call 828.754.0101 to speak with a member of the volunteer services team. They can also be reached via email at cakins@amoremsupport.org, cburch@amoremsupport.org or lfidler@amoremsupport.org.

AMOREM’s Service Podcast is proudly brought to you by AMOREM, your local, nonprofit, hospice and palliative care provider. AMOREM has provided services to the community for more than 40 years, formerly as Burke Hospice and Palliative Care and Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, and has served the High Country for more than 10 years. To learn more or to make a referral, visit www.amoremsupport.org or call 828.754.0101 to speak with a local team member.