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Home > Medical Services > Hospice > Volunteer Program > No One Needs to Die Alone
Jim and Colleen Nieman have found their calling. Faith-filled and altruistic, their journey to becoming passionate Hospice of Mercy volunteers began while serving as Eucharistic ministers to residents of Meth-Wick.
“We became close to these residents and walked with them from the time they moved in until the time they went home to meet their Savior,” Jim said. “We wanted to know what to say to them.”
So, Colleen explained, “We decided then to sign up for special hospice training. It is a great fit for us.”
Jim, who retired from Iowa Electric, and Colleen, a retired French and Spanish teacher, have been volunteering with Hospice of Mercy for 15 years. Their responsibilities cover everything from delivering medications to providing respite care for caregivers to supporting patients and families in the 11th hour. The Niemans have learned a lot about the dying process in those years and are quick to share their experiences.
Jim explained his role as an 11th-hour volunteer.
“I’m on call for whenever Hospice needs me to sit with a patient in the later stages of dying,” he said. “It’s a quiet time. I may talk to a patient, watch them breathe and often pray over them. If a family is there, I advise them to share memories with their loved one. It gives the family something to do and these memories can then be shared at the wake or funeral gathering. Those memories can provide solace, comfort and peace during a difficult time.”
“Living our faith by walking with others during their end-of-life journey has been a privilege,” Colleen added. “No one should die alone. Everyone should die with dignity. We honor their wishes and help them think about going home to greet the Lord or whoever is their God. We serve with a positive attitude and a smile.”
Through their hospice volunteer commitment, the Niemans have formed friendships and helped prepare families for the after-death shock of planning the details of a wake and funeral service. Many families have been the recipient of their grace, generous spirit and devoted faith. In 2012, Jim was honored as “Hospice Community Volunteer of the Year.”
The Niemans are both strong proponents of Hospice of Mercy.
“Whatever we can do to advocate for their exceptional end-of-life care, we will do it,” Colleen said. “We encourage others to give back, also. It has brought us great joy and purpose.”
Consider a gift to support Hospice of Mercy or the Oldorf Hospice House. Make a gift online.