Published on May 11, 2020
Annie is a Nashville native and acclaimed jazz musician. She volunteers with patients at our Nashville residence and hosted a benefit Christmas concert for Alive in 2019.
What do you love most about volunteering at Alive?
I love meeting the residents who come to the facility where I make rounds. Being by their bedside is such an intimate experience, and it’s an honor, whether they’re talkative or resting. I marvel at imaginings of the full life they lived that I wasn’t a part of, but I treasure having the chance to meet, love, and accept them for where they are right now.
Why did you start volunteering with us?
I spent my early adulthood earning a degree in Gerontology and working in nursing homes, but soon became immersed in music and worked on a career as a singer. After many years, I missed being in an environment focused on basic human needs and caring for others.
Did you have any fears before starting?
I do remember thinking, “Who do I think I am to hold space for someone in their final days?” afraid that I couldn’t possibly relate. I haven’t lost my spouse, a sibling or a parent, so I also feared I wouldn’t have the right kind of empathy for the family members I’d meet. But I learned a special kind of presence that comes with being with people going through this. Being interested, respectful, and caring was enough to start, and I just keep learning how to be there for them. We do, after all, all have loss and eventual transition in common. My community gives me new perspective.
What would you tell others considering volunteering?
There are so many different ways to plug in that there’s probably one that inspires a fit. You can work directly with patients either at a group residence or in their home, you can make phone calls, or you can work the front desk. There are community events, music, massage, pet therapy…Alive offers a lot of ways to get involved.
Describe a favorite Alive experience
I love this mental snapshot of a good friend I made at the residence. I was massaging lotion into her feet while she waved an open bag of Cheetos in one hand and talked animatedly into her cellphone in the other, speaking loud enough to hear over the “Price is Right.” She’d cared for a family, not her own, through two generations. I chuckle remembering how it was fun to spoil her. And that mental snapshot is just one of many simple yet potent ones – of the Living that can occur at Alive.
Apply to volunteer: Alivehospice.org/volunteer