Volunteer Voices

Unity volunteers Mary Bosman (left) and Helen Potier regularly visit with palliative and hospice patients to provide companionship and caregiver respite. Bosman and Potier are pictured at Golden Living Center – Dorchester, in Sturgeon Bay, where they often visit with Unity patients.

When people mention “hospice,” living is not the first thing that comes to mind. But for Helen Potier and Mary Bosman, volunteers with Unity Hospice and Palliative Care, that’s exactly what it’s about.

Potier, a five-year volunteer for Unity, decided that she wanted to volunteer for a very personal reason. Potier’s mother (who has since passed away) had received hospice care out of the area and she knew how important it was to her father to be able to have that kind of support.

“I saw something in the paper about Unity needing volunteers and I thought this would be the perfect way for me to give back for what was done for my family,” said Potier.

Bosman, a four-year volunteer and local artist, always felt a connection to people needing spiritual comfort. “You need to meet these individuals at whatever level they are at,” said Bosman. “Just being present is the most important. I search for a quiet level of intimacy with people. I want to have compassion.”

Both Potier and Bosman say that their volunteer efforts are amongst the most rewarding things that they do. “It’s not doom and gloom – it’s anything but!” said Potier. “One day I was visiting with a client and I wasn’t getting much reaction from her. After sitting with her for about a half hour, I got up, gave her a hug and told her I was going to go. After little response for the previous 30 minutes, she said to me, ‘Thank you for visiting with me today.’ At that moment I was reassured that I was making a difference.”

Bosman agrees. “I think that when you face the thing that you fear the most (death and dying), you see a very different thing. You find people’s strength, humor and spirituality.”

Whether it be playing a game of cribbage or sitting by the bedside of a failing patient so that a family member can get a much needed break, Potier and Bosman know the importance of providing a little “normal” in the lives of both patient and caregiver. “You learn a lot about yourself doing something like this,” said Potier. “We’re the ones that really benefit from our clients.”

There’s a quote that says, “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” The relationships that have been fostered by these women and the patients and families that they serve undoubtedly will never end. After all, it’s all about living!

To become a volunteer with Unity Hospice and Palliative Care, call Unity at 920.743.6440.

For additional volunteer opportunities throughout Door County, visit or call the Volunteer Center at 920.746.7704.