GREENVILLE—Pine Tree Hospice (PTH) based in Dover-Foxcroft, is a unique organization that has been providing care to people and their families in Piscataquis County, as well as parts of Penobscot and Somerset Counties, when they are in the final phase of their lives. Everyone in this part of Maine should be aware of their services, not only because they are free of any charge, but also because what they do can have such a positive and life-changing affect on the caregivers and those they are caring for. The fact of the matter is that there are many who would benefit from PTH but may not know about them.
Pine Tree Hospice emphasizes enhancing the quality of life and preserving a sense of dignity while providing palliative comfort care. Recently, they had a gathering at DKB Catering in Greenville to enjoy coffee and delectable desserts and celebrate 25 years of providing these services.
Pine Tree Hospice volunteers are an extraordinary lot – filled with compassion and a desire to bee helpful in a meaningful way. According to their brochure, PTH is one of the few remaining all-volunteer hospices in Maine, and, in fact, the whole United States. Seeing a great need, this organization formed in 1985 with a commitment to their neighbors to offer the best of emotional care for those that are dying, as well as their family and loved ones. Only a year after Pine Tree Hospice was underway, Sherry Pierce Corbin penned a poem that sums very nicely who the volunteers are at heart, and what they do:
PTH Coordinator, Amy Madigan-Dube has found her job to be very rewarding. "We fill in the gaps," she said. "Families are challenged by things that may happen at the end of life, but they have expressed so much gratitude for what (our) volunteers do for them. Direct care volunteers provide respite, run errands, and visit to provide companionship and emotional support. They help with advanced directives, and identify family needs that might make life easier. You'd be surprised how something as simple as a shower chair can really help a family!"
Madigan-Dube has been traveling to various areas of the service region to meet with volunteers as well as those interested in the program as part of the 25th anniversary celebration. It's a testament to the volunteers that this hospice organization is so successful. "We are a volunteer organization with three part-time staff members," she said. And we cover a territory of 3,900 square miles!" That's a lot of territory - almost the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined! Pine Tree Hospice offers a Community Hospice Education program that prepares volunteers to provide direct care to hospice clients and families.
This program offers a course to become a hospice volunteer that involves a comprehensive overview of hospice philosophy and care in compliance with Maine State regulations. A certificate is awarded when the participant achieves the required outcomes and has completed 20 hours of study. PTH also works in conjunction with other organizations such as Community Health & Counseling Services.
Nancy Elsemore is one of four volunteers in Greenville. She has been with Pine Tree Hospice from the beginning. "It is a great privilege to be of assistance," she said. "And sometimes the smallest things, or the willingness to spend a little time can mean so much."
People who may not have as much time to offer Pine Tree Hospice can serve in other ways. Indirect volunteers do not work with families, but their assistance is no less valuable. These volunteers spend countless hours working "behind the scenes" to help the hospice organization run smoothly. For example, they help with office work and the design of brochures or other handouts. They serve on committees and help at fundraisers, which are important to keep Pine Tree Hospice going. They may even pick up specialized prescriptions or other essentials that have to come from Bangor. Their Board of Directors is made up of community members who donate their time.
Jane Stitham, Executive Director of Pine Tree Hospice praised those gathered at DKB's. "We are a 501 C (3) non-profit organization that serves 33 towns as well as the unorganized territories in Piscataquis, Penobscot and Somerset Counties," she said. "PTH honors life and offers comfort with dignity to people of any age living with a progressive life-limiting illness. PTH also educates and supports its volunteers and staff to maintain a high standard of care, and responds to care-giver, family and community needs for continued bereavement support."
Sue Mackey-Andrews of Dover-Foxcroft, who ran for a Maine Senate seat in District 27, attended the Greenville event. "Their unselfish donations of time and energy have made a huge difference in the lives of those going through difficult transitions," she said. "I am delighted to be here in Greenville to show my support."
PTH also provides patient and family bereavement support, a lending library, meal preparations and light housekeeping. They offer special services to grieving children and recently added a pet loss workshop for children and adults.
On Sat., June 18 PTH is holding a golf tournament in Palmyra with proceeds going to help the organization. On Sat., June 25, they will have a presence at the famous Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft, offering massages and manicures. On Fri., July 15 at 5 p.m., join them on the grounds of Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft for a celebration of 25 years of community support. There will be music, a dinner, a silent auction and much more.
Learn about these and other upcoming events either by calling 564-4346 or visiting them on the web at www.pinetreehospice.org.
Volunteers and contributions are always welcome. You may also write to them at Pine Tree Hospice, 883 West Main Street, Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426.
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