The Maine Hospice Council will host a two-day National Hospice Volunteer Conference Oct. 17 and 18 at Holiday Inn By-the-Bay, 88 Spring St., in Portland.

The conference theme is “Volunteers: Contributing to the Wellness of Our Society.” The event will honor the contribution Hospice volunteers make to patients and families. It also provides a forum for volunteers to network, gain insight into changing demographics, recruitment and retention, as well as an opportunity to increase their knowledge, according to a news release from the council.

“Hospice volunteers have been the heart and soul of Hospice in the United States for over 40 years. They recognize the value of support to ease anxiety and stress for family members during one of life’s most important journeys. While the economy and health care may continually change, needs of patient and family members at end of life do not,” said Maine Hospice Council Executive Director Kandyce Powell, according to the release.

“Everyone needs comfort, companionship, and someone who will take time to listen. The incredible support provided by trained hospice volunteers must continue to be valued and their potential maximized for the wellness of our communities,” said Powell.

“Volunteers: Contributing to the Wellness of Our Society” begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, with a reception with award winning author and performer Susan Poulin. Poulin was selected by Portland Magazine as one of the “Ten Most Intriguing People in Maine.”

Friday, Oct. 18, is a full day of keynote speakers and workshops.

Keynote speaker Maryalice Crofton is executive director of the Maine Commission for Community Service. Under Crofton’s leadership, the commission has fostered the growth of AmeriCorps in Maine, created VolunteerMaine, and launched online volunteer management training. Her conference topic is “Changing Demographice of Volunteering: The Big Picture.”

“Dementia: What Does the Future Hold for Caregivers” is the topic for second keynote speaker Kathryn Pears. Pears is a dementia expert who trains and consults with families, health and long-term care professionals and facilities, and community agencies. She specializes in understanding the non-pharmacologic management of the challenging behaviors that occur with dementia.

The National Hospice Volunteer Conference workshops cover a wide range of topics such as Personal and Professional Considerations for Volunteers, Spirituality: A Segue into the Essence of Living, Medicare Hospice Benefit: A Primer for Hospice Volunteers, and Compassion Fatigue: Recommendations for Health Care Providers and Volunteers.

The conference is sponsored by The Bingham Program, Maine Health Access Foundation, and Drs. Trisha and Jim Van Kirk.

To register and to learn more about the two-day events, visit the Maine Hospice Council website mainehospicecouncil.org.

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