Volunteer Spotlight: Cathryn Stillings

At Hospice of the Red River Valley, we are fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers. We celebrate their contributions to the organization and the many ways they enrich our patients’ lives.

Click here to find more information about our volunteer program and learn how to apply.

Cathryn Stillings


Volunteer: Cathryn Stillings
Years of Service: Less than 1 year
Location: Valley City, N.D.

Why do you choose to volunteer with Hospice of the Red River Valley?
It’s not so easy to put into words–but surely the end of our lives is a time of great transition, a profound mystery, and I think it is a time to be treasured because that person is surely very near to God. And in an ordinary way, to be able to bring a little comfort and cheer to the day of someone whose life is increasingly restricted makes me feel useful and happy.

If you had no fear, what would you do?
If I had no fear and I were 30 again, I might do something like teach English in a foreign country. That has always appealed to me. Now that I’m looking into my senior years, I am happy to be living a quiet life with my husband. Just the normal experience of aging is a daily exercise in patience and in being at peace with whatever the future may bring.

Where is the most exotic place you’ve been?
I loved Japan, although it’s not really exotic in the sense of being remote or unknown. My husband Dennis and I were there in 1996. When we traveled to Kyoto, I was able to attend the meditation sittings at a famous Zen Buddhist temple. I got up in the middle of the night and took a bus to the temple grounds quite some distance away. I hadn’t expected it to be such a big complex of buildings, and I wandered around in the dark until I found somebody raking leaves and asked where I might find the abbot of the monastery. I finally stumbled on the tiny sign indicating the meditation hall. I announced myself to the abbot (my attendance that morning was, of course, prearranged), and he barked at me loudly to go away! I thought that was great; it was just how a novice practitioner is traditionally treated in the books I have read. So I waited quietly outside. After a while, he invited me in and gave me strong ceremonial green tea and little tea cakes, and we had a very pleasant visit before the commencement of our meditation sessions in the main hall.