Sylvia Valverde Named Volunteer of the Year by Houston Hospice
When Sylvia Valverde retired from a 33-year career as an educator in 2011, she knew volunteering with hospice patients and families was what she wanted to do. A personal experience prompted her to seek opportunities to help through Houston Hospice where her empathy and commitment to service have made her a perfect fit. As one of the only nonprofit hospices in Southeast Texas, Houston Hospice relies upon over 250 volunteers to help set the tone for the compassionate care patients and families receive.
Because she is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, Sylvia often helps translate for patients and families. She enjoys her conversations and says seeing patients and their loved ones smile is priceless. “I enjoy visiting with the patients and family members and they like knowing that Houston Hospice is very special to me because my mother was a patient there. That experience connects us and lets them know that I have personally experienced hospice care. While every death is different, I can somehow relate and understand what they’re going through.”
Sylvia says her biggest surprise about her volunteer work is how much she loves it. “The patients have given me tremendous insight about living life to the fullest and that the dying process is not to be feared. I’ve especially been blessed to give babies and toddlers love and care in their final days when their parents haven’t been able to be present. That has been my most rewarding experience.”
Her mother’s experience as a patient inspired Sylvia to volunteer. She says the care her mother received in 2003 from the nurses, doctors and other staff members made a big impression on her. “I always said I wanted to give back when I had the opportunity. I retired from education in August 2011, and I immediately contacted Houston Hospice and began the training that September. God has blessed my life tremendously and He calls us to be servants—this is why I’m here—to serve.”
Volunteer Manager, Patsy Piner said it wouldn’t be Friday mornings at Houston Hospice without Sylvia Valverde’s lovely smile and sweet spirit. “Whether she is passing out pillowcases to patients, training new volunteers or sharing her delicious homemade goodies with the staff, she is a blessing to everyone she visits. We are so fortunate that she chose to volunteer with us.”
Volunteers are an integral part of nonprofit Houston Hospice’s team; serving patients and families with caring expertise in the Houston Hospice care center, in patients’ homes and in assisted living facilities. To learn more about volunteering at Houston Hospice, call 713-467-7423 or visit www.houstonhospice.org.
Founded in 1980, Houston Hospice has evolved from an alternative, grass roots concept to a leader in hospice care throughout Houston and ten surrounding counties. Houston Hospice, is a 501 (c) (3) organization that is community-based, community-supported and not for profit.