SPRINGFIELD — Lainy Dullea, “volunteer extraordinaire” at the Baystate Visiting Nurse Assoc. and Hospice in Springfield, recently received the national Volunteer of the Year Award from the Visiting Nurse Assoc. of America.
The award, presented at the group’s annual Home Care Convention, is presented annually to a volunteer who best demonstrates the ideals of volunteerism through providing direct services to or for patients.
Hospice helps me to see how precious each life is,” she said. “To me, it’s an honor to spend time with these patients and families.”
Caroline Stanton, volunteer coordinator for the Baystate Visiting Nurse Assoc. and Hospice, nominated Dullea for the award.
“Lainy has a unique way of fitting in with almost anyone,” she said. “She has a lot of compassion, and for her to receive an award on a national level is a testament to what she does.”
In her nomination of Dullea, Stanton focused on a memorable encounter the volunteer had with a 26-year-old cancer patient, her mother, and her five young childen. Dullea became an integral part of the family for a year and a half, taking the children to outings at least once or twice a week, enlisting the help of others to find them a new and larger apartment with furnishings, Christmas gifts, and a financial advisor.
Before becoming a hospice volunteer, Dullea raised five children and was a also a teacher, but “there was a always a desire inside that I couldn’t quite identify,” she said.
After spending time with her father and a good friend during the last days of their lives, Dullea realized the experiences were incredibly rewarding. Soon after, she came across a newspaper ad from the Baystate Visiting Nurse Assoc. and Hos-pice looking for hospice volunteers. And she’s been volunteering ever since for the past three years.
Dullea said she was surprised to learn that she would be receiving the award, because to her, she is “just living out something she loves to do.”
“It’s funny because I’m 57 now and I’ve found my calling,” she explained. “I’m convinced I will do this for the rest of my life.”
To learn more about becoming a hospice volunteer, call Sharon at (413) 827-4472.