ELKINS - Mountain Hospice continues to provide for patients and their families this Christmas season, as volunteers work tirelessly to make the holidays as joyous as possible.
Operating across seven counties in Northcentral West Virginia (Randolph, Pocahontas, Barbour, Tucker, Mineral, Pendleton and Grant), Mountain Hospice helps provide comfort to patients and their families, as well as offering grief support and memorial services for lost loved ones.
Mountain Hospice provides these services year-round, but officials say it is particularly important to maintain them during the holidays.
Mountain Hospice volunteer Kelsey Bennett, of Coalton, helps prepare for a Mountain Light-A-Life Memorial Service at Woodford Memorial Methodist Church.
"The holidays seem to be a difficult time for people dealing with loss," said Deborah Goodman, executive director of Mountain Hospice. "We provide resources and have people available to help those facing or experiencing grief this holiday season."
One example of those efforts is the Mountain Light-A-Life Memorial Services program, providing services in which families come back, visit with Hospice workers and volunteers, and remember the loved ones they have lost.
"These memorial services are open to the public," said Mike Elza, marketing project coordinator for Mountain Hospice. "The family comes back and reminisces with the hospice workers and volunteers about their loved ones."
The most recent Mountain Light-A-Life Memorial Service was held at Woodford Memorial Methodist Church, with more than 100 people attending. The service was for families from Randolph, Pocahontas and Tucker counties.
"The services provide closure for both sides," Elza added. "It provides them with a period of time to remember and reflect."
The next Mountain Light-A-Life Memorial Service is scheduled for Dec. 19 at Philippi Baptist Church at 7 p.m.
Mountain Hospice volunteers also help serve in many different ways, according to Mountain Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Julie Miller.
"We had one full-time volunteer and a group of nurses come in and set aside a day where they donated ingredients, went to their church and baked cookies for patients," said Miller. "They made enough to hand out at the memorial services and some doctors offices. This is just one of the things our volunteers do everyday."
Miller also said that another project that volunteers were working on was preparing bags with slippers, Christmas stockings shaped like ice skates and manicure and pedicure sets that were then handed out to patients for the holiday. Another group organized and decided to go caroling of homes in several areas in Barbour and Randolph, and one individual made "Memory Bears" for grieving families out of clothing of the deceased, Miller said.
The services of Mountain Hospice don't stop when the holidays are over. There are many other projects slated for the coming months.
"We are making a greater effort to work with veterans," Goodman said. "We have also scheduled grief camps for kids that provide outreach for children under 18. It's a way to provide them a community to manage and understand what they are going through."
Contact Chad Clem by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.