Hospice of Santa Barbara plays an incredibly important role in the greater Santa Barbara community. In addition to offering practical and spiritual support to individuals facing chronic and terminal illness, the organization maintains a wide range of programs for children, family members, and other loved ones. With the help of the hospice, people find peace and comfort as they face the end of life and receive guidance on addressing important issues with their loved ones before their passing.
To continue offering its incredibly important services free of cost, Hospice of Santa Barbara largely relies on the support of individuals from the community. Depending on your interests, availability, and financial circumstances, there are several different ways to help.
Volunteering with Hospice of Santa Barbara
Several different types of volunteer positions exist at Hospice of Santa Barbara and people who choose to help in this way do so for a variety of reasons. Some people feel a personal call to hospice work, while others have directly experienced the difference that the organization can make in people’s lives.
At the heart of many of the organization’s programs are patient care volunteers, who offer transportation, companionship, and assistance with shopping, cooking, and other household chores to patients, caregivers, and families. Patient care volunteers are also available to relieve regular caregivers for shorter periods, to allow them time off for rest and renewal.
Before becoming patient care volunteers, individuals must complete a comprehensive training course that takes place one day a week over the course of six weeks. Afterward, patient care volunteers continue to receive ongoing education, training, and support in their important work.
Some volunteers receive additional training to work through particular Hospice of Santa Barbara programs, such as No One Dies Alone (NODA), which offers social and logistic support to seriously ill patients in the hospital, as well as their loved ones. Volunteers also work as spiritual companions, providing support and assistance as patients and clients confront the existential implications of death. Spiritual companions first complete an entire year of intensive training before working directly with patients.
Other Hospice of Santa Barbara programs that operate with the help of volunteers include pet therapy, which is provided by owners of certified therapy animals, and Life Reminiscence. This latter program involves the creation of journals, scrapbooks, audio recordings, and other forms of memory preservation so that people can create a legacy for their loved ones. The I Have a Friend program relies on adults who have lost parents and siblings in their childhood to serve as mentors to young people facing similar losses.
Hospice of Santa Barbara additionally depends on volunteers for office administrative tasks and to help organize events, including private receptions, art openings, and the annual Light Up a Life celebration, which invites the community to commemorate their loved ones at special memorial sites throughout the area.
Become a Part of the Hospice Community
People can also support Hospice of Santa Barbara directly through in-kind donations of needed products. All items donated in this way enable the organization to support families, patients, and volunteers.
The organization’s “wish list” includes several different types of products, such as gas cards, restaurant vouchers, airline miles, and phone cards for families. Individuals can also prepare dinner for families in the Parenting After Loss program, which generally has 12 to 20 participants. Other items on the wish list include canvases for art therapy projects, Christmas gifts, and back-to-school supplies. The I Have a Friend program typically asks for tickets to local events and attractions like movies, museums, sporting events, and other fun activities that mentors and the young children they support can do together.
To help individuals coping with loss, the hospice asks for books about grief. Currently, the organization is seeking multiple copies of Martha Whitmore Hickman’s Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief. Patients facing loss also benefit from donations of quilts, relaxation aids like lavender eye pillows, and CDs featuring meditations or guided imagery exercises.
Donate Financial Support to the Hospice
As a volunteer-driven organization, Hospice of Santa Barbara never charges individuals for the services it provides. The organization does not seek reimbursements from insurance providers or government agencies. Instead, the hospice operates with the generosity of people in and around Santa Barbara. Individuals can help the hospice through a one-time donation, or they can work with the planned giving team at the organization to create an alternative plan tailored to their wishes and financial means. Planned giving donations can involve a range of different assets, including cash, stocks, bonds, and other securities. The organization also accepts gives of real estate, retirement assets, and life insurance benefits. The planned giving team helps individuals receive tax benefits and other economic advantages from their donations.
Getting Involved Today
Individuals interested in supporting Hospice of Santa Barbara can learn more about specific opportunities online at HospiceOfSantaBarbara.org, where a volunteer application is available to download. In addition, people can call (805) 563-8820 or contact the volunteer services department by email. Volunteer trainings are only offered at certain intervals throughout the year, but individuals can donate items or financial gifts at any time by visiting the organization in person, or using the online donation form on the website.