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ProMedica Hospice Volunteer: A Profound Privilege


Chuck Owen is a warm and cheery man who immediately makes you feel at ease with his humor. Just the type of father or grandfather you'd be proud to have. A faithful volunteer with ProMedica Hospice since 2013, Chuck spends most of his time at ProMedica Ebeid Hospice Residence but also makes house calls when needed.

Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind, Chuck was an engineer by trade but also studied for the priesthood for two years. He and his wife, Madeline, put down deep roots in upstate New York where they raised three children.

With deep reflection, Chuck looks at his volunteering for hospice as repayment for the care his wife received while she was battling leukemia. She spent 243 days in Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton some 20 years ago. The facility was small and didn't offer hospice services so the hospital staff became the Owen's end-of-life care team. Chuck fondly recalls the relationships he and his wife built there, some of which he continues to maintain today.

Quick to express the benefits he receives from volunteering, he explains that it is an unfair trade. "It's rewarding to make a difference in someone's life. It feels like a selfish profession because we get far more than we can possibly give. We can take care of their pain, offer comfort, friendship, and laughter; but patients teach us about love, acceptance, calm, incredible strength and courage."

Chuck is always ready with a joke and often brings a sense of normalcy to the turmoil patients and families go through. Winston Churchill once said, "When you make someone laugh, you give them a little vacation." Humor was important to Chuck and his wife so he uses it to help relieve tension in very stressful situations.

Some might think that volunteering for hospice is depressing but Chuck sees it differently. "Sure, we cry every once in a while because we're losing friends. You become reflective. It's something that's ahead of every one of us so let's deal with it as best we can. I see it as a profound privilege."

And while the desire to be near his daughter and grandsons originally brought Chuck to Toledo, his work at hospice gives him another reason to stay. "Patients change me as much as I change them. I just want to help carry on their legacy by telling their stories."