Created: May 14, 2020 06:39 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The ESL Jefferson Awards honors individuals who tirelessly give their time to help others in our community.
Winner Ruth Hogan is a hospice volunteer who guides patients through their final moments.
"I think everyone has a gift, and we need to find out what that gift is. I'm so thankful I found out what my gift is, and it's right here at the Hildebrandt," Hogan said.
Hogan has been a hospice volunteer with lifetime care for nearly 30 years, dedicating anywhere from 40 to 70 hours a week at Hildebrandt Hospice Care Center.
Hogan didn't always know that, though. She wanted to guide patients and families through those final moments.
"It seems like I've come full circle that when I was 17 to 18, death frightened me, and now it's a comfort to me to be able to help others at this time. It's a very personal, intimate time," Hogan said.
Hogan's impact is felt well beyond Rochester. She also organizes a hospice trip once a year to Zululand in South Africa.
"I just feel such a sense of... Something in my heart, going over there and helping people like that really have so little hope," Hogan said.
Rose Fletcher has joined her on one of those trips. She's known Hogan for nine and a half years, and fondly calls her a mentor to other volunteers.
"One of my favorite phrases that Ruth always uses is she ‘puts on her big girl panties’ and she deals with it, and I definitely think that encapsulates Ruth's approach to life,” Fletcher said. “She's no-nonsense. She's a hard worker. She's gonna get stuff done. She's one of the most dependable people I've ever met. So driven."
It's these qualities that allow Hogan to be a comfort for those saying goodbye to a loved one.
"I went to a nursing home,” Hogan said. “The gentleman was the patient, and his wife was sitting on the bed. I said to her, 'Have you told Charlie it's ok to go?' She says, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Obviously he loves you very much and he doesn't want to leave you. He wants to make sure you're ok.' So she took his hand. She said, 'Charlie, it's ok to go. It's no big deal. I'll be right behind you.' It was just so endearing. Over the 30 years, I've just gathered all of these very special moments."
Moments like that mean just as much to Hogan as they do to the families.
"It's just something that I value so much,” Hogan said. “I get so much more out of it than what I give to their patients and their families."
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