For the past nine years, Sarah Liziewski has dedicated herself to volunteering at Hospice of Southern Maine, where she weaves a tapestry of compassion and care.
This organization holds a special place in Sarah's heart because it provided her solace during the difficult times of losing her brother, husband and mother.
“My journey as a volunteer began when my husband Dan decided to utilize hospice care and stay at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House before his passing in 2013,” she said. “I was just so inspired by the quality of services he received that I decided to volunteer as well.”
For Sarah, choosing to volunteer at this location became a meaningful way for her to process her grief and help others facing similar situations along the way.
Six years ago, Hospice of Southern Maine introduced their Paw Prints Program, which helps patients facing terminal illness by connecting them with furry friends.
Seeing this as a unique opportunity to incorporate both she and her husband's love for animals into her volunteer work, she decided to participate with her beloved chocolate lab mix, Piper, whom she had adopted three months after her husband's passing.
Sarah got Piper certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and since then, she has also added a terrier mix named Nell to her team.
Her doggy duo plays a vital role in breaking the ice with strangers, their wagging tails and soft fur naturally invite conversations. Sarah wholeheartedly embraces every opportunity to volunteer with her canine companions, appreciating their therapeutic presence.
“I like to joke that when I walk in a room, people greet the dogs first,” she laughs. “But that’s what I love about dogs. They bring out smiles in people. Many individuals have had to leave their pets at home in order to travel to Gosnell. The presence of the dogs initiates conversation.”
In addition to her work with the dogs, Sarah assists in fundraising events, stuffing envelopes for capital campaigns and volunteers at Gosnell House offering companionship and respite care to patients and their caregivers.
Sarah is also always willing to speak with volunteers considering getting their pets certified for the Paw Prints Program.
“Each interaction is just so rewarding and allows for a deeper connection with families and patients facing similar situations,” she said.
If someone is considering becoming a volunteer, Sarah encourages them to reach out to the manager of volunteer services to address any concerns. The training program equips volunteers with the necessary tools, and the agency values and accommodates each volunteer's needs.
“Volunteering has taught me to appreciate what I have, to prioritize experiences over material possessions, and to strike a better balance between work and personal life,” she said. “I really believe that everyone can benefit from volunteering their time to a cause they believe in. It feels good to be there for others in need.”
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer with Hospice of Southern Maine, please contact their volunteer department at email@example.com