To volunteer one’s time and talent to help others is truly a gift. At Heartland Hospice serving East Central Wisconsin, we treasure our volunteers for the difference they make in the lives of our patients and their families every day.
Jake Kowalski is one of those rare people who not only volunteers his time for our hospice patients, but also serves our country as a Master Sergeant in the Air Force National Guard, 128th Air Refueling Wing. Jake has been in the military for about 18 years.
When asked why he volunteers, Jake replied, “I got my feet wet in volunteering by becoming a bell ringer with the Salvation Army, but I wanted to do more. I decided to search for volunteer work that would impact Veterans.” After seeing an ad for Hospice Volunteers, particularly Heartland’s Veteran-to-Veteran program, Jake knew it would be a good match for him.
Jake reflected, “Over the last couple years, the program has been just as beneficial to me as it is to our older Veterans. I feel honored when they open up and share their experiences with me. There seems to be a natural bond between us that makes it feel like old friends swapping war stories. It’s amazing that although decades have passed between their wars and mine, we share a strong connection having experienced similar fears, emotions, and sacrifices.”
“Jake has been an integral part of our Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer program,” commented Brooke Vis, Heartland Volunteer Coordinator. Recently, Jake informed Brooke that he would have to suspend his volunteering as he was going to be deployed for his 4th time to Southwest Asia. After hearing about Jake’s deployment, Brooke explained, “I knew we had to do something for him and his unit.”
As word got out about Jake’s deployment, donations came pouring in. Heartland collected: socks, books, DVD’s, candy, jerky, games, lip balm, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, body wash, shampoo, sun screen, wet wipes, and water flavoring packets and more for Jake and his unit. Two local businesses generously donated also…Taco Bell gave a case of hot sauces and Midwest Dental gave toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. In all, Heartland shipped out four large boxes!