Heartland Hospice volunteer David Williams has been named one of five finalists for the 2019 United Way of Pickaway County Community Impact Award. Williams was nominated and selected for the distinction as the result of a community-wide search launched this past June to identify and highlight members of the community going above and beyond to make Pickaway County a great place to live.
Williams is in his fourth year volunteering in hospice and tending to ailing loved ones and families in need during the later stages of life. Formerly a nurse and 25-year veteran of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s emergency room, Williams is no stranger to using his medical training, a calm demeanor, and talents to assist loved ones through medical care.
“What I do is for a very specific reason, said Williams. “I spent 25 years in nursing at Ohio State in the Emergency Room, so I have spent a lot of time around people who were passing away. My best friend passed away in 2016 from Agent Orange so I knew what hospice helped me and his daughter get through. Hospice was with my brother who died last February. I retired in 2015 and started volunteering with Heartland Hospice in March of that year. The only thing that maybe I do differently is that one of my best friends in Columbus has two Siberian Huskies and I went through the process of getting them registered and trained as service companions since all of my clients tend to be in the same nursing home. So what started out as originally as a one hour visit now takes about two hours because everybody in the whole nursing home and rehab center wants to see the Huskies and I am not going to say ‘no’ to anybody.”
When he is not providing an incredibly vital support system for families and clients in need, Williams can be found doing crossfit at Circleville-based Hammerhead Crossfit. But for Williams, who musters the strength to work on behalf of families with a loved one in the later stages of life, it is crossfit, not hospice care that makes him nervous often asking “Do I have to do this?” as he heads out the door to his three day a week crossfit class.
In regards to hospice volunteering however, Williams is deliberate, focused, and intentional about his time and the impact it has on families.
“I feel called to do it,” said Williams. “I have a strong religious base and I have done it for so long either in the E.R. setting or when I retired now in the hospice setting that I am used to it. A lot of people are afraid of transitioning from one life to the next, but I am not. So I try to bring that positivity. The thing is, a lot of people think hospice means somebody is going to die immediately. It does not mean that at all. I have one client who has been in hospice for four years. I think it is just a calling.
“I think volunteers no matter what they do, they have a certain calling and this happens to be mine,” continued Williams.
Whether it be through hospice care or another platform, Williams sees volunteering as a means for community outreach and personal growth. He expanded upon this with an eye on recommendations for youth looking to get into volunteering.
““I would explore the opportunities,” said Williams. “I signed up with Heartland Hospice. There is another group in town that they could check out. Talk to people in the offices and find out what the expectations are. Get a feel for what a volunteer really does in terms of being a hospice volunteer. Sometimes it is just reading a book. Sometimes it is holding a hand. I don’t think anyone should transition into the afterlife by themself. It is just your presence and your being that makes that person feel that they are not alone and that somebody understands what they are going through.”
The United Way of Pickaway County is proud to name David Williams a 2019 Community Impact Award Finalist this fall. Williams, along with the four other finalists, will attend the 2019 United We Serve Gala at the Pavilion at Orchard View of Stoutsville where they will be honored for their commitment to community outreach. Additionally, one winner will also be named that night as the result of a community vote on our website at pickuw.org.