Volunteer Stear Motivated by Hospice Work
A former social worker for the mentally ill, this West Bloomfield resident now provides peace of mind for local caregivers.
Loraine Stear of West Bloomfield's gifted listening skills allowed her to work as a social worker for 30 years, and her recent volunteer work allows others to enjoy the gift of longevity, as well.
Stear, 62, volunteers through Angela Hospice of Livonia at bereavement services, going to the funerals of those who have utilized hospice care and expressing condolences to the caregiver of the deceased. It's a role which she said feels connected to after a confluence of recent events in her professional career and personal life — her place of employment closing in 2005 proceeding the death of her mother in 2004, for whom she served as caregiver.
"I couldn’t have done it alone," Stear said. "I used Angela Hospice ... the comfort and the support that hospice provided made a very difficult task easier, particularly when the person chooses to die at home, which is what my mother’s choice was."
Stear worked with the chronically mentally ill as a clinical social worker and agreed that what made her comfortable working in that difficult situation also aids her in this position. Volunteer services manager Syndie Best said that Stear is an expert in listening and support, while also lending a hand to raise funds for the Livonia-based nonprofit.
"To work with in an environment dealing with difficult life situations for 30 years is impressive, but to jump into doing this shows a great ability to listen and individualize service provided to everyone she helps," Best said.
Stear said that hospice support was crucial in allowing her comfort after not only the passing of her mother, but also of a close friend in 2002 and her father in 1995, all to cancer.
"It took away the fear of death. I saw that death could be very peaceful," said Stear, a cancer survivor herself. "I feel very blessed to be a survivor and free to give back in this way."
Stear's husband, Allan Charlton said that he is grateful for what volunteering has done for her, and vice versa. "The professionals at hospice come in and make life bearable. They take care of the individual things the person does for the daily needs. Plus their attitude in terms of dealing with the situation makes life all the more comfortable," he said.
Stear also currently volunteers at Antioch Lutheran Church of Farmington Hills, where she is a member.
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