Volunteer Spotlight: Janice Frojen

Meet Janice, a pathway volunteer at Hospice of the Red River Valley. Pathway volunteers are present at the bedside of a hospice patient who is actively dying. The presence of these volunteers provides a break for family members or comfort for the patient if he or she does not want to be alone and their loved ones are unable to be with them.

Janice FrojenName: Janice Frojen
Location: Oakes, N.D.
Volunteer Role: Pathway volunteer
Volunteering Since: Since December 2012

Tell us about your role and why you volunteer with Hospice of the Red River Valley?
I go into the home or wherever the patient lives and visit with them if they are able to visit.  A lot of the time, I read to them or simply rub their hands with lotion or just sit with them while their family members can feel free to leave and get a little break from their being a caregiver for a short time. When I do Pathway, I continue to sit with the patient when family members can’t be there. I chose to become a volunteer for two reasons. I had a friend who was a Hospice volunteer in Sioux Falls SD and she kept telling me that I should sign up as a volunteer. About this same time, my best friend was diagnosed with cancer and it was too far along for successful treatment. I was fortunate that her family allowed me to be part of her care giving. When Hospice was called in, I was very impressed with all of their staff, the nurses, aides and volunteers. I realized there was a need which the volunteers filled for family members – not just the patient/client. After she passed, I moved to Oakes and had some free time on my hands so I decided it was time to do some volunteering and I thought Hospice was the place I wanted to be. I haven’t regretted that choice for a second.

Tell us about one of your favorite volunteer experiences at Hospice, OR What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Hospice?
One of my first clients was a woman about my age in a nursing home. She had difficulty talking yet we were able to communicate. It was a wonderful experience for me. There were days when her hair wasn’t fixed the way she liked so I would get her curling iron out and re-do it. Her husband visited every day along with her children and granddaughters . We all developed a great relationship. I was able to take her outside to the garden. She also loved to read which she couldn’t do anymore so I would read to her. Toward the end, she had audio books and then we would listen to them together.  I really like helping others which makes this my favorite part about volunteering with Hospice. Another great experience was with a gentleman who had dementia. He ended up in a nursing home and we always had the best conversation – even though it was the same conversation every fifteen minutes. He would forget and ask me the same questions we had just had – I would just try to make each answer more interesting than the last. I have now seen the need for Pathway volunteers which is being with the patient during the process of dying. At one time, this would have been the last thing I would want to be around, but after being with my friend from West Fargo at her passing, I discovered that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. That experience was such a spiritual event to be part of that it gave me the desire to help other families going thru the same emotional process.

What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering with Hospice of the Red River Valley?
I would say don’t hesitate – just sign up, get trained and join us! It’s such a rewarding experience you’ll never regret it.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
I think people would be surprised to know that I once was a very shy and quiet person. I am part of a large family and I was left behind at Church a couple of times and taken home by family friends.  When I was about 14, my Aunt was visiting and I was actually sitting next to her, but she looked around and asked my mother where I was. It was about that time that I started working on being more outgoing. I would say my being involved in other volunteer positions has helped me with that objective. Some would probably say I went too far in the other direction, but I actually like myself this way. I am no longer afraid to speak up or to have discussions and actually voice my opinion.

What is a dream you have that you’ve yet to achieve?
I don’t know that I have an actual “dream” that I still want to achieve other than to watch my 5 grandchildren grow up and hopefully become successful adults pursuing their goals, and to spend as much time as I can with them. There are a couple of places I’d still like to travel to around the United States like Alaska and the Grand Canyon.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’d say the best advice would be “don’t be afraid to try new things or to take a chance”…life is to be lived to the fullest every day.  And something I try to practice is to is to not dwell in the past…live in the present.

At Hospice of the Red River Valley, we’re fortunate to have dedicated volunteers of all ages and backgrounds throughout our service area. The Volunteer Spotlight celebrates their contributions to the organization and the ways they enrich our patients’ lives.

Want to become a volunteer? Whatever your skills and interests, we have a role for you! Learn how to get started.