Rosemary Mason

Daily Point of Light # 3325 Nov 1, 2006

Iowa City Hospice is a community-based nonprofit organization that offers care to patients, their families and friends throughout the dying and grief processes. We provide the same quality care to every patient, regardless of their disease, age, background or ability to pay. Iowa City Hospice adds life to each day by helping individuals and families make the most of their final time together.

The volunteers – nearly 600 strong – play a critical role in achieving their mission. Approximately 60% of Iowa City Hospice patients use volunteers, and there is an average of 90 volunteer assignments per week. In 2005, 78% of Iowa City Hospice’s funding came from Medicare reimbursement or commercial insurance, and 22% through community support. The fundraising efforts are very successful in large part because of their reputation for outstanding staff, volunteers, and services.

Rosemary Mason, a faithful dedicated volunteer since 1988, has made it her personal mission to ensure that Iowa City Hospice patients and families feel supported and cared for during their end-of-life experiences, and to “spread the word” about the value and importance of hospice care. Mason, their 2005 Volunteer of the Year, has recorded more than 1,300 hours of volunteer time – though they believe she has donated many more hours – in a variety of capacities.

Mason is first and foremost a Direct Patient Care volunteer, providing comfort and companionship to patients and respite to families. She was among the first to complete the specialized training required for a corps of volunteers who work with Alzheimer’s patients. She also was a charter member of a group of volunteers who work specifically at one nursing home, at times caring for as many as seven patients a week.

Mason’s dedication to her patients is unrivaled. When a particularly nervous patient had to go to the hospital for tests, Mason felt so strongly that the woman needed the comfort and calming influence of a familiar face that she stayed with her for 10 hours until all her tests were completed.

Hospice is available to terminally-ill patients who have six months or fewer to live. When a patient is actively dying, the needs of the patient and family can increase dramatically, and time is of the essence. As a Final Days and 11th Hour volunteer, Mason does not think twice about climbing out of bed at 3a.m. on a cold winter morning and driving in the snow and ice to hold the hand of a dying patient.

Mason has found additional ways to add to the quality of Iowa City Hospice patients’ lives. She formed a group of 20 volunteers who knit and crochet shawls and lap blankets for the patients. Often without realizing it, Mason assists with community awareness efforts and serves as a great volunteer recruiter, inspiring others to follow her lead. Rosemary Mason is a perfect example of the effect that selfless volunteering can have on individuals, families and the community.