By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Naoma Snow has volunteered with Hospice Circle of Love in one capacity or another from the first days of the organization 28 years ago.
“It was just starting out, and there was a little article in the newspaper that there was going to be a class for volunteers,” Snow recalled.
Snow took the class. She’s helped with operating the office, mailings, book sales and an assortment of tasks.
But her heart is most happy when she’s directly meeting the needs of patients and their families.
“My main purpose is to be there with the patient — whether that means sitting by the bed or in the recliner and talking to them or listening,” Snow said. “I’ve sometimes spent the whole night with them talking to me.”
She also can be called upon to tend to personal needs while there, wash dishes or do light housekeeping. Volunteering is about what the patient needs, Snow said.
“I picked green beans a few times for one lady,” she said.
It’s also about giving primary caregivers needed breaks to run errands, tend to business or just go do something for themselves.
Snow knows helping care for someone who is terminally ill is an ordeal not everyone can handle. Many are afraid to attach or cannot bear watching their patien’t decline. As a result, the caretaker often has a hard time finding someone to help.
“They are the heroes, not me,” Snow said.
She gets all the thanks she needs just by seeing the difference hospice has made in the lives of those it has served.
“The patient’s primary caregiver, what they went through before hospice came into the picture, and how grateful they are,” Snow said. “They just didn’t realize there was that type of help out there.”
Hospice also improves the quality of the patient’s care, Snow said.
“Without hospice you can call your doctor and get hold of your nurse and the doctor will call you back at the end of the day,” Snow said. “Hospice has a nurse on-call 24 hours a day. Hospice nurses can often get hold of the doctor and get orders out of the doctor before the end of the day. The doctors respect the hospice nurses.”
Snow credits her decision to volunteer to being a lifetime resident of a giving community and the way her parents taught her to live.
“It was ... just instilled in me that that was what you do whenever you can help your fellow man,” Snow said.
“Naoma was a volunteer for our very first patient when we opened our doors in 1983, and she has provided wonderful, passionate care for numerous other patients since then,” said Julie Nelson, volunteer coordinator for Circle of Love. “Naoma shoveled the snow for our first patient, and she has gone above and beyond for all our patients since then.”
Snow was recognized in 2009 as Volunteer of the Year by Oklahoma Hospice and Palliative Care Association, Nelson said.
She said it’s obvious Snow gets joy from seeing the caregivers’ relief and from knowing she does something helpful for them.
Hospice Circle of Love director Chad Caldwell said there are about 5,000 hospice offices in the nation and nearly 200 in Oklahoma.
Nationwide, 49 percent of hospices are not-for-profit, with 47 percent operating with a profit. The remaining hospices are operated by government agencies, such as Veterans Administration.
Caldwell said out of Oklahoma’s 199 hospice organizations, 18 are not-for-profit.
“In Enid we have three hospices, and we are the only not-for-profit one,” he said. “Our only agenda is to serve the people of northwest Oklahoma.”