As Paula Rossman first began to consider volunteering, she was reminded of the biblical parable of the talents and how talents are given to be used and not ignored.
“I realized long ago that we are given certain talents by God,” she says. “It was just a matter of finding the talent God gave me.”
Rossman concluded that her talent was “compassion,” and has since put it to good use as a patient volunteer with FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care.
According to Hospice Volunteer Services manager Susanne Tyndall Martínez, prospective volunteers come to Hospice with a variety of talents.
“Volunteers who work with Hospice need to be compassionate, caring adults, committed to respecting patient confidentiality, and able to adhere to FirstHealth policies,” she says. “Beyond that, volunteers come with a broad range of strengths and talents that they use in supporting patients as well as in our administrative services. Paula’s talent is a great capacity for compassion.”
As of June, Rossman will have been a Hospice volunteer for four years. She pays weekly visits to a wheelchair-bound, barely communicative patient with Alzheimer’s disease. When the woman was able to acknowledge her visitor’s presence, even a simple greeting made Rossman’s day.
“That made me feel like, yes, this is worth it,” she says. “I’m comfortable with her, and she seems comfortable with me.”
Born in Pennsylvania, Rossman lived in several other states before returning to Philadelphia as a sixth-grader and eventually meeting her future husband there. After marrying, the couple moved to his hometown of Chicago and then to Charlotte; Jacksonville, Fla.; Raleigh; and Lynchburg, Va., as he pursued a career in sales.
They bought retirement property in Foxfire and five years ago moved into a community that is comfortably accessible to their children in Jacksonville, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; and Washington, D.C.
Rossman graduated from Pennsylvania’s Elizabethtown College and later, at her father’s suggestion, trained as a medical technologist at West Jersey Hospital in Voorhees Township, N.J. Today, she works casual part time at the FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center, calling the medical technology field “a great job” and crediting her father for directing her toward what has become a congenial career choice.
“Every time I think of my dad, I think ‘thank you,’” she says.
She is also an “avid” reader who picks up one book as she finishes another.
According to Martínez, Rossman is committed to her Hospice patient even though she must sometimes plan their visits around her changing work schedule.
“Paula is very dedicated to her patient visitation and finds ways to make visits meaningful for the patient she visits,” Martínez says. “I love working with her. I feel like I really connect with her, and I think that comes from her genuine and open personality.