Everett native helps hospice patients through their last days

EVERETT — Jeanne Rogers has found her calling in a line of volunteer work that not just anyone can do.

For almost a decade, Rogers, 67, has been seeing patients through their last days at Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County.

“Every patient or family member you come into contact with has a story to tell, in their own way,” Rogers said. “And you learn from them, in your own way.”

The Everett native became interested in volunteering after her father died. She saw it as a way to give back to the hospice team that took care of him.

She started by working the phone for Providence.

“I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me,” Rogers said. “I think something in my heart told me.”

After about a year, Rogers took on training to do respite care for hospice patients. She spends the day with them while their caregivers take a break.

“You’re a peaceful presence,” Rogers said. “You don’t do anything but be a friend for a day.”

Rogers offers her companionship to patients in their homes and in medical facilities. She continues as long as the family needs her service.

Rogers offers her office skills at the Providence Hospice Foundation. She also does fundraising events alongside her husband of 28 years, Gary Rogers.

“It is such a wonderful thing to volunteer,” she said. “It may just change your life forever.”

Rogers said she approaches her patients quietly. She gradually gets people talking about their likes and dislikes.

“They can tell you marvelous stories,” she said. “That’s what they want to do. They want to tell their life story.”

Rogers said coping with the end of life means letting go of fears.

“I’ve never seen a bad passing. They’ve always been gentle,” she said. “I’ve learned not to be fearful with death or in life.”

Rogers took that lesson from her father’s death in 2003. Now, when a patient dies, she has a ritual.

“Once in awhile there’ll be one that’ll tug at your heartstrings,” she said.

To feel better, she lights a candle and celebrates the person’s life and the time they were able to share.

Rogers builds close relationships with patients but she also sets boundaries. Rogers said that personal interaction is most rewarding part of the gig.

“You meet these amazing people who even at the end of their life have wonderful stories to tell,” she said. “They give to you every day.”

After spending her career working on the railroad, Rogers said volunteering offers something beyond retirement in her life.

“It’s quite a calling. Not everyone can do it,” she said. “You hope that someday, someone does that for you as well.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

If you’d like to volunteer

Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County is looking for volunteers to serve in a variety of roles. Options include visiting patients, delivering supplies, working in the office and helping with events. Information sessions are scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month in the afternoon or evening; the next session is April 16. For details, call 425-261-4815.

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