In rural Clackamas County, our strength has always been in how we pull together in times of need to take care of our own. Right now, some of our own need us.
I’m going to own up to something right now. Several years ago, when I moved to “our neck of the woods,” I doubted I’d ever really become part of this community. I didn’t have kids in school, I didn’t have time for many activities, and I didn’t know anyone well enough to wrangle an invite to a party. For a while, it looked like I would always be sort of a weird stranger who sometimes came to town on an errand.
As life will do, it has proven me wrong. I started volunteering for No One Dies Alone (NODA) and met a few folks: other volunteers, families of the people we serve, care home staff, and local merchants when I stopped for a Diet Coke on my way to and from NODA vigils. Everybody was neighborly and assured me, “This is a great place because the people here are great.” I took folks at their word, but as of a year ago, I still felt like the awkward new kid on the edge of the playground.
Then the 36 Pit Fire started. Like everybody, I was following the updates spark-by-spark and joined all the social media groups. Heck, I even tweeted—and neighbors from clear across the forest tweeted back, asking if I was ok. And there it was: all the stuff I had been told about how we take care of each other around here. And there I was: in it, and welcomed too, and pretty danged impressed with us as a whole.
That’s why I’m writing this letter to you, my neighbors, in all the little towns and country byways in our neck of the woods.
Remember when I said I volunteer for No One Dies Alone? We have some neighbors who need help.
Have you heard of NODA? We are a team of volunteers who sit with folks during the last 24 or 36 hours of life. Our goal is exactly what our name describes—that in the last moments of life, a caring person will be there. It’s not hard. NODA volunteers simply sit at the bedside; sometimes we read to our companion or play a soothing CD. We often hold his or her hand. We don’t do any nursing care.
No One Dies Alone (NODA) currently needs Compassionate Companion volunteers in Clackamas County to sit with people who are dying when friends and family cannot.
We used to have a team of local volunteers, but life circumstances—new babies, retirements, moves—have reduced our numbers.
Not long ago, I sat a vigil at one of the care homes in Sandy with a woman who used to live across the road from my house. Her daughter still lives across the road from my house and both of us spent some time bedside each day, but neither could be there 24/7. NODA Volunteer Coordinator, Jim Pfiefer, did his best to find coverage for the remaining hours, but there simply weren’t any other volunteers available.
I felt sure that wouldn’t be the case if more of my neighbors knew about this pressing need to take care of our own.
Can you give 2 – 3 hours occasionally to sit with a neighbor and be a comforting presence as they pass from this life?
If so, please contact our NODA volunteer Coordinator, Jim Pfeifer at 503-956-8255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NODA Information Sessions in Barton and Estacada June 17, 2015
Learn more and get all your questions answered about volunteering for NODA at one of these short informational session:
- 5:30 p.m., June 17, 2015 – Cornerstone Funeral Services, 18625 SE Bakers Ferry Rd, Boring, OR 97009
- 7:00 p.m., June 17, 2015 – Grace Place, 380 NW 6th Ave, Estacada, OR 97023
Read More Online About No One Dies Alone
- “Giving Comfort in Life’s Final Moments” in NW Boomer & Senior News
- “No One Dies Alone Matches Volunteers with Patients” in Portland Tribune
- “The Kindness of Strangers” in O Magazine
Photo credit: “The Clackamas River along Highway 224 east of Estacada,” Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives via Wikimedia Commons