Foundation Supports Comfort House Volunteers

WELLSVILLE, N.Y., April 3, 2012—The Allegany County Area Foundation has made a grant of $850 to the Comfort House to support training of volunteers at the new hospice facility.

“We have 54 four-hour shifts to fill each week,” said Sharon Tyrell, coordinator of volunteer servic

ACAF gives grant to Comfort House

Doug Roorbach, executive director of the Allegany County Area Foundation, presents a check to Scott Swift, executive director, and Sharon Tyrell, volunteer coordinator, of the Comfort House. The Foundation made a grant of $850 to the house for volunteer training.

es for the Comfort House. However, she says, they have had plenty of people step up. “People have just jumped right in with their whole hearts,” Tyrell said.

To date, the house has trained more than 100 volunteers. Tyrell said that they would like to have a pool of approximately 120 who are active at any one time.

She said that the facility has a four-hour session that teaches volunteers everything from the hospice philosophy to how to change beds. Although many start out with some fear of being able to handle the various tasks, “We tell them, ‘Just go through the training,’” Tyrell said, “By the end of the training they just wonder who’s going to cook that night.”

The grant will support that training effort, financing new instructional videos, training materials, badges and recognition for the volunteers. “We can’t thank them enough,” said Scott Swift, Comfort House’s executive director. He said that the volunteers often don’t want any recognition: “They say ‘I don’t want you spending money on me.’”

However, the organization has recognized those who achieve 100 hours of service with small items like gift cards to places they like. “Part of the application process is to find out who they are and what they like,” so that the facility can choose something they might like, according to Swift. He noted that the week of April 10-26 is National Volunteer Week, by presidential proclamation, so the grant is a timely one.

“The Foundation’s Board of Directors felt strongly that this project was one that fit perfectly with our mission of supporting the people of Allegany County,” said Doug Roorbach, executive director of the Foundation, “This grant will help volunteers from the county to help an organization whose whole purpose is to help people. It’s truly a situation where everyone pulls together.”

“This will allow us to devote a portion of money to the volunteers—to do whatever they need,” said Tyrell. She noted, for example, that the house doesn’t have a computer for volunteers to use during their shifts and that they would like to plan some in-service sessions to address special topics.

“As we keep training and learning, we keep adjusting,” said Swift, “It’s a constant change. The learning process continues. We have to keep learning.”