• Frank Haight: Local woman finally receives after a life of giving

  • It really didn’t matter to Independence newcomer Lois Jones that her first volunteer assignment was popping popcorn one day a week for residents at The Groves/Groves Community Hospice.

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  • It really didn’t matter to Independence newcomer Lois Jones that her first volunteer assignment was popping popcorn one day a week for residents at The Groves/Groves Community Hospice.
    After all, the Maryland native was fulfilling a need to make a difference in her new hometown as a volunteer, and what better place to display her volunteer skills than at the Independence retirement community where there were many opportunities.
    Like transporting residents to and from doctor appointments, which Lois did for a couple of years – among other things – before Beverly “Bev” Christopher, director of volunteer services at the two facilities, asked if she would be interested in becoming a hospice volunteer.
    Lois, who started volunteering at the Groves in 2008 after moving to Independence in 2007, accepted the challenge. She took an 18-hour class, passed the exams and became a hospice volunteer in 2010 at Groves Community Hospice, 15600 Woods Chapel Road, Kansas City.
    It didn’t take Bev long to discover Lois excelled in every aspect of her job – especially during the 2 1/2 months Bev was recovering from two knee surgeries last year and unable to work.
    “There isn’t anything she can’t do,” Bev says, adding that during her recovery, Lois functioned as “my right hand, my left hand, my right foot, my left foot, and then she just had to be all of me. ... She ran the program in both locations superbly.”
    Desirous to recognize Lois for “not missing a beat”... for “taking over the office” ... for “going beyond the call of duty” in her absence, Bev nominated Lois for the Heart of Hospice-Individual Award, designed to honor a person affiliated with Missouri Hospice & Palliative Care Association for going above and beyond the call of duty in enhancing the quality of life for hospice patients.
    On March 13, at a Jefferson City luncheon held in conjunction with “Hospice Day at the Capitol,” Lois was announced as winner of the 2012 Heart of Hospice Award. She humbly accepted it on her 65th birthday, saying, “Thank you.”
    Sitting in her office at The Groves, Bev beams as she bestows accolades upon Lois, whom she says is not only an outstanding volunteer, but also “one of my very best friends” who always puts others ahead of herself.
    How frugal is Lois? Frugal enough to wear the same housecoat for 45 years. And she probably would still be wearing that tattered robe if Bev hadn’t heard about Lois’ need and purchased her a new robe and a gown to go with it to show her appreciation.
    Says Bev: “It wasn’t that she couldn’t have afforded during those times to ever get a new robe, but she would rather give to others instead of herself.”
    For Lois, serving others is a way of life. It’s her legacy.
    Page 2 of 2 - “She is a lady who will shop at a thrift store so she can have more money to give to other people,” Bev says, whether it’s through church, a charitable organization or a need.
    “That is exactly what she does” – a trait that is unbelievable in a volunteer, she says, adding: “She would give the shirt off her back. She would give anything she had. She will just do anything for anybody.”
    Giving of herself is something Lois has been doing all her life.
    “I feel like I have been a caregiver most of my life,” she says emotionally, recalling at age 10 she was given the responsibility to help care for her youngest sister.
    Lois recalls that when she decided to get married, her baby sister thought she was getting married, too.
    “She wanted to get married with me because I cared for her. She would climb in bed with me. I would help with her homework and those kinds of things,” she says. “I have always been one that wants to give, rather than receive.”
    Noting her involvement with older people throughout her rich life, she recalls that she and her husband, Irvin, use to pick up the elderly and take them to church or to doctor appointments and other places.
    “So I have grown up around older people and seeing their needs and wanting to try to meet their needs,” she says.
    Before coming to Independence, Lois and Irvin reached out to Native Americans on a Navaho reservation in New Mexico, where she directed a childcare center for 14 1/2 years. Her husband taught school.
    What does the future hold?
    “At some point in my life, I want to try and go back to New Mexico,” she says. “When that time comes, I will continue with hospice.”
    But until then, Bev is sure of this: “I just never want to take (Lois) for granted. I always want her to know that I appreciate what she does.”
    And so do the other members of the hospice team, who just the other day asked, “Can we clone her?”
    Congratulations, Lois! You’re one of a kind. Keep on blessing others.
    Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.

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