PH DuBois Looking for Volunteer Chaplain Assistants

January 06, 2015

Rev. Charlene Lauver, staff chaplain, with LaMarr Adamson and Peggy Snyder, both volunteer chaplain assistants

There is an emotional and spiritual side of healing. Often, patients in a hospital desire to talk about their spiritual needs, seeking comfort and hope throughout the course of their healing. 

Recognizing this need and the value of its patients, Penn Highlands DuBois offers an opportunity for those who desire to offer themselves to service in the hospital setting assisting the patients in the role of a volunteer chaplain assistant. 
Penn Highlands DuBois has a Pastoral Care Department that is called upon to provide spiritual and religious needs for patients, family members and staff, according to Deacon Robert DeNoon, a board-certified chaplain and director of the department.  
Upon registration, patients are asked if they would desire a visit from Pastoral Care. It doesn’t matter what an individual’s faith background may be - all religions and beliefs are respected. If consent is given a referral is made to the Pastoral Care Dept upon which a staff chaplain or volunteer chaplain assistant will make a pastoral visit. 

Volunteer chaplain assistants are those who are specifically trained to address the spiritual needs of our patients. 

For those interested in this program, training for new volunteer chaplain assistants is being offered under the direction of Rev. Charlene Lauver, chaplain at PH DuBois. Starting in February, it will be held one night a week for eight weeks with sessions lasting no more than two hours per evening. 
This training equips the volunteer chaplain assistant to be informed and prepared to better meet the needs of the patient, according to Lauver. The training includes such topics as understanding the different faith traditions, how to communicate and listen effectively, understanding hospital policies and more.

Following completion of the training sessions, the program concludes with a mandatory one day retreat. Mentoring by staff chaplains is also a part of continued training as volunteers begin to serve the patients in their role.

How does one start the process? Pick up an application at the Information Desk in the atrium of PH DuBois West or call Pastoral Care at 375-3426. Deadline to return the application is Jan. 9.
Who would make a good volunteer? “It requires no special type of background or training,” LaMarr Adamson, volunteer chaplain assistant, said. “You get plenty of that on the basis of the classes. It’s a person who is kind, considerate and willing to listen.”

“I find personal satisfaction in volunteering. You’ve done something good,” Adamson said. “At times you talk or pray, if that is what they want.”

“It’s being able to help people in their spirituality in whatever way we can to feel hopeful and secure so they don’t feel at a loss,” Peggy Snyder, volunteer chaplain assistant, said.

“As a chaplain, we enter the sacred place of one’s heart and walk in the footsteps of their life’s journey,” Lauver said. “We offer a ‘pastoral presence’ to listen, to bring hope, comfort, healing and peace in the midst of difficult situations. We become a representative of God’s love and through His mercy and grace a transformation begins to take place in the hearts of those we minister to and within our own hearts as we serve Him.”

Upon completion of the training process, volunteers are asked to commit to serve approximately three hours per week at least for the first year, and the number of patients to visit varies with each volunteer visit. 
Scheduling time to volunteer hasn’t been difficult, Snyder said. The volunteer chooses the times he/she is available based on one’s personal schedule two months in advance. Also, should something arise, trading with another volunteer has not been difficult, she said.

“If accepted, volunteers are asked to make a small contribution of $25 for materials, but we do not want this be a hindrance for anyone who wants to volunteer,” DeNoon said. In the past, almost all of the candidates had churches or pastors assist with scholarships for their members to show support for this program.

“The Pastoral Care Department of Penn Highlands DuBois looks forward to meeting those who feel a sense of calling to serve in this ministry as a volunteer chaplain assistant,” Lauver said.