Betsy Baier, left, and Grand County Hospice Director Jessica Walsh. The hospice will be holding its annual volunteer training on Tuesday, March 8, and Thursday, March 10, at Moab Regional Hospital. [Courtesy photo]

If you want to channel your unique talents into helping others, here’s your chance.

Grand County Hospice will be hosting its annual volunteer training sessions next week, and it’s searching for new volunteers who can improve the quality of life in the last six months of its patients’ lives.

“Everybody has a special gift that they contribute to humanity, and this is that perfect place to share that gift,” Grand County Hospice Director Jessica Walsh said.

The free two-day sessions will be held on Tuesday, March 8, and Thursday, March 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Moab Regional Hospital’s Education Room 2, 450 Williams Way.

The first evening will double as a community outreach event, and Walsh welcomes anyone who is interested in learning more about hospice care to attend. Guests will be treated to a free dinner that will include vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Prospective volunteers should plan on attending both sessions for the full six hours, although they are not obligated to serve if they change their minds at some point.

“If they do want to participate for the whole time, that does not necessarily mean they’ll have to commit to being a volunteer,” Walsh said.

The sessions will touch on everything from the history and philosophy of hospice care, to the different roles that volunteers can perform. Other discussions will turn to the physiological, emotional and spiritual aspects of terminal diseases and death, and explain how the hospice’s team provides comfort and pain management to its patients.

Walsh promises that the sessions will take an interactive approach that involves audience members.

“They won’t just be sitting there listening to someone talk the whole time,” she said.

Each volunteer opportunity is tailored to a person’s comfort levels, and may range from helping out in the office, or checking in on hospice patients to see if they need anything.

“We never ask someone to do something that they’re uncomfortable with,” Walsh said.

Respite care is just one of many other essential roles that volunteers can fill. In those cases, they will stay with a hospice patient and share stories with them while a family member or caregiver goes out to run errands.

“They give them a much-needed break,” Walsh said.

This year, Walsh would love to find more volunteers who are licensed in specialized professions, such as massage, art or musical therapies. She also hopes to continue the hospice’s important work recording digital histories of its patients.

Even after a patient passes away, volunteers are still needed to help the hospice in its bereavement work with a patient’s family.

“After a person dies, we are with the family for 13 months to make sure they are grieving OK and get the support they need,” she said.

In a community that has no shortage of civic-minded residents, Grand County Hospice’s rate of volunteerism far exceeds the mandates of a 1982 federal law that require hospices to recruit volunteers.

“Five percent of our direct patient care has to be done by volunteers, and last year, we had 37 percent, so we’re doing really well,” Walsh said.

Moab resident Marcee Nettell joined those volunteers for the first time last year, not long after Walsh signed on as the hospice’s director.

Before she first saw an ad for last year’s training session, Nettell had no personal experience with family members in hospice care. However, she said she’s always enjoyed working with older people, and when her schedule cleared up, she decided that she could give something back to the community by volunteering with the hospice.

At first, she helped out at the hospice’s office, but when the opportunity arose, Nettell eventually began to sit with a hospice patient once a week.

“It just kind of evolved,” she said.

From her experiences, she found that patients have unique personalities and distinct needs. Some patients just need someone else to talk to. Others may be less communicative, and may need to have someone there for simple tasks, whether it’s to help them stand up, or fetch a glass of water.

“They can all be different experiences, depending on what the person is wanting,” she said.

There are ultimately many opportunities for volunteers that can be behind the scenes, Nettell said, and in the event that they ever need help, Walsh said that hospice team members are available to offer their support around the clock.

Volunteers invited to training session next week

For more information about the volunteer training, or to RSVP for the sessions, contact Jessica Walsh at 435-719-3772, or email

What: Grand County Hospice Annual Volunteer Training

When: Tuesday, March 8, and Thursday, March 10, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Moab Regional Hospital Education Room 2, 450 Williams Way

Cost: Free; includes dinner

Information: 435-719-3772;; Space is limited, so sign up early

Everybody has a special gift that they contribute to humanity, and this is that perfect place to share that gift.