May 2005 News
Bill Sewell named National Hospice Volunteer of 2005
HANCOCK -- National recognition has been given to William Sewell, longtime hospice volunteer and Professor Emeritus from Michigan Technological University (MTU), by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) with the award of "Patient and Family Volunteer of the
Year." April ceremonies in Atlanta, Georgia, included this auspicious honor bestowed upon Bill for his years of dedicated service to the terminally ill and their loved ones.
Scott Vickers from the NHPCO stated "the award recognizes hospice volunteers who best reflect the universal concept of volunteerism in its truest sense."
There are 3,300 hospice programs nation-wide and 400,000 hospice volunteers who annually provide
18,000,000 hours of volunteer service for the terminally ill.
J. Donald Schumacher, (left) President and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, congratulates Dr. Bill Sewell at the 6th Annual Clinician's conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta,
Ga., on April 23, 2005. Sewell was named the "Patient and Family Volunteer of the
Year." (Photo © 2005 Omega House)
Bill has been a hospice volunteer for Keweenaw Home Nursing and Hospice and is on the board of directors for Portage Lake Hospice, which is the oldest volunteer hospice organization in Michigan. He is a founding member of, and also serves on, the board of the Omega House Community Hospice Project. Omega House is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit community coalition building the first residential home in the Upper Peninsula dedicated to providing a supervised living environment for the terminally ill. He is also a founding and continuing member of the Community Coalition on Grief and Bereavement in Hancock as well as serving on the board of directors of the Barbara Kettle-Gundlach Shelter Home for Abused Women in
Ray Weglarz, RC, CHPN, of Keweenaw Home Nursing and Hospice, nominated Bill
for this award.
"Bill embodies the best qualities of volunteerism -- true selfless service, without seeking personal acclaim or
acknowledgement, Weglarz said. "He seems to always be available to serve where he is particularly needed most, for patients who are alone and socially isolated. He will speak to community groups when
asked. His involvement in volunteering for hospice as well as for a number of community organizations with similar missions has helped to create bridges and greater communication between service providers that would not have been in such close contact."
Weglarz noted Bill's bridge-building has served the community well, demonstrating that conviction and dedication can bring people together to meet the needs of the terminally ill.
"His standards of care and confidentiality are noteworthy," Weglarz
said. "In addition to speaking to new hospice volunteers about patient care, he also speaks on HIPPA requirements for
volunteers; and he serves on our agency's Ethics Committee."
From his personal volunteering experiences beginning in the early 1990s, Bill
recognized the specific unmet needs of the terminally ill in the local communities. He worked behind the scenes to help organize and launch the Omega House Community Hospice Project. Omega House will provide a home-like environment for the terminally ill who lack caregivers and who do
not want to spend their final days and weeks in a hospital or nursing home. Bill
is Chairperson of the Omega House Public Relations/Events committee and is a
member of the Operations Committee.
Prior to Bill's retirement in 2004 from MTU's Humanities Department, he regularly invited hospice professionals into his classrooms to speak to his students and developed and taught the first classes held at MTU on death and dying. The class utilized a wide range of community speakers, from hospice workers to funeral home directors, to talk about hospice and end-of-life care.
Editor's Note: Bill Sewell has also contributed articles to Keweenaw
Now. See "Omega
House to provide home for terminally ill hospice patients."
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