Averaging 14 hours a week as a volunteer for Mountain Hospice, Inc., Peggy Canfield of Elkins says, "I just can't wait to get to the office. Everyone is so nice-they treat me as someone special. I never know what they'll have me doing.
"Sometimes it's working on a mailing, sometimes putting together packets of goodies for patients, sometimes baking cakes for the community Lenten Lunches. I just do whatever they want me to do, and it's always a joy."
Canfield came in contact with Mountain Hospice when her husband was stricken with bone cancer.
Peggy Canfield smiles during a recent Job Fair at Davis & Elkins College.
"I can't imagine what I would have done without the nurses and aides," she said. "They helped me in all kinds of ways. Of course, they gave my husband direct care, but sometimes they just provided me with time to run errands and see friends. When Mountain Hospice came into my life, it was as if someone had lifted the world from my shoulders. And now I'd like to think that I'm lifting a little weight from someone else's.
"I wish people understood what is involved in hospice service. It's so much more than what is called end-of-life care. It's quality-of-life care in the broadest sense of the word, not only for the patient but for family members and friends."
Canfield is originally from Valley Head, the oldest of nine children. Her mother and father each had 13 siblings, so Peggy grew up surrounded by 26 aunts and uncles and countless cousins. She went to a one-room school through eighth grade, then on to Tygart's Valley High School in Mill Creek. Six months after graduating, she married her sweetheart, and together they raised three boys. Another baby was stillborn.
"I've worked hard all my life, both as I was growing up and ever since," she said. "As soon as our youngest son was in junior high, I persuaded my husband that I could work for money. First it was in a restaurant, and then it was part-time in a convenience store. There, I worked with the manager, but he had a heart attack, so I had to take over. That experience taught me that I never wanted to be anyone else's boss. I cried a lot over that old adding machine!"
After the convenience store, Peggy went into real estate, earning her license by mail from the University of Nebraska.
"I sold real estate for about four years, and then I just let the license expire in order to work at various other places and to take care of my husband. Since he died two years ago, I've been spending Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Mountain Hospice. If I could, I'd volunteer every day of the week. It's a blessing. It gives my life meaning."
Whether she is representing Mountain Hospice at a job fair or helping out in the Belington office or joining the nurses and aides to prepare for a Christmas party, Canfield represents the best vocation in the world-volunteerism.
For more information about Mountain Hospice or volunteer opportunities there or elsewhere, call the volunteer coordinator, Julie Miller, at the Belington office at 304-823-3922.