HHA 2018 Changemaker of the Year Nominee:
Pamela Keetch knows only
too well what it’s like to see dogs
handed over to pet rescues. While
serving in her role as president of
a small-breed dog rescue, Pam
saw first-hand the surrendering
of pets due to the owners nursing
home entry, or impending death.
It broke her heart to see this
happening. Then she heard about
Home Hospice Association’s Bello
and she was hooked. Thus began
her expansive journey with HHA.
Before she knew it, Pam was involved in various aspects of HHA, from its training, to the committees that are forming its infrastructure. Taking the Compassionate Caregiver training with HHA helped Pam to understand the end of life journey. She explains: “It wasn’t the death and dying that hooked me originally. But now I’m thinking about it more. It’s opened up an area of human life I’ve never explored.” However, it was the realization that none of HHA’s programs can happen without well-trained, secure volunteers, that drove Pam to become more involved in the way HHA moves forward with its infrastructure.
Pam became involved in the Volunteer Engagement Committee, the Moonlit Memory Walk Committee, Chapter Agreement Subcommittee, and is the Chapter Champion for the National Capital Chapter of HHA, serving as Secretary Treasurer on the Board of Directors. Pam worked on the RVT (Registered Veterinarian Technician) Mentorship Guide for onboarding RVT’s, and provided reviews for HHA’s RVT website.
As Chapter Champion for the National Capital Region, Pam says that it’s important to make the Ottawa community aware that Home Hospice Association and all of its services are available to them. This past Fall, HHA’s presence at the Butterfly Run (raising awareness for pregnancy and infancy loss) was an important part of spreading the word about HHA. Current services are only available to parents if the pregnancy goes past twenty weeks. “It’s important for people to know that HHA volunteers are there to fill in the gaps with our compassionate care,” Pam explains.
Most important to Pam is that volunteers know their incredible value and that they feel confident that their organization has a strong infrastructure; one that has been meticulously planned and enlightened by the best available information. Therefore, her role on the Volunteer Engagement Committee is particularly important to her. “I’m really enjoying being part of an organization that’s still getting off the ground in many ways. It’s important to me that I’m helping to develop infrastructure because it is essential for moving forward successfully,” she says.
In Pam’s vision for HHA, moving forward with volunteers means keeping them engaged and active invaluable service. This happens by keeping up communication through surveys, possibly private Facebook groups, and email updates.
Written and Submitted by Terri-Viola Wilson
Of course, there’s always HHA’s newsletter, “In the K-now” that not only keeps everyone up-to-date on the latest developments within the organization, but also inspires people to continue to do great work by acknowledging what has been accomplished.
When reflecting on where she gets her personal inspiration, Pam talks about her dad who passed away in 1991. Diagnosed with cancer, he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment but eventually, was told that there was no more the medical profession could do for him. Wanting to die at home, he was cared for by her mother and the VON. Pam honours her mother for her personal sacrifice that made it possible for her father to die in the comfort of his own home. Pam describes her father, a high school teacher, as a “quiet and unassuming man who had strength of character and strong morals and ethics”. When she finds herself at a crossroads, Pam asks herself, “What would Dad do?”. Reflecting and valuing this, Pam says, has only come as she has gotten older. She knows that it helps her to feel more confident in her choices and decisions. This is important when working with others.
With regard to her own volunteer work and how it has effected her, Pam recognizes that she is exploring areas she had never had the opportunity to think about before. She has now interfaced with others with expertise in areas she has little or no experience, thereby expanding her knowledge. Pam knows that she would never have attending the Moonlit Memory Walk, were she not involved in HHA. Not only did she attend the National Capital Chapter’s Walk, she was one of its planners and hosts. Now that she’s participated, she understand its value and is looking forward to next year’s Walk which will evolve based on this year’s experience.
“I feel that my volunteer experience with HHA has exceeded my expectations,” Pam reflects. “I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering, to join HHA.” Given the many aspects of the organization and its service to the public, Pam is confident that anyone can find something they can do and that they will know that they are valued and supported.