Local Volunteer Brings The Power Of Music To Hospice Of Michigan

Hospice can be a tough thing to handle.

That’s why Hospice of Michigan invites all sorts of volunteers to interact with residents to comfort them as they near the end of their life.

People bring in pets, they talk to patients, really do whatever they can with their time to help.

Gordy Berg volunteers once per week and tailors his performance as much as possible to whoever he’s singing to.

“What I search for are songs that like you saw with Joan, she’s going to know well enough so that when the music starts it’s like the words are there,” Berg said.

For nearly a year he’s has been singing songs and strumming along for patients at Hospice of Michigan.

The size of his audience depends on the day…but the impact he makes on them never changes.

On Tuesday, he sang to 89-year-old Joan McNamara.

“Oh I loved it, I loved it,” she said.

And even though she has dementia and wasn’t completely convinced she knew the words, she’s singing right along.

“It’s always amazing to me that when I start singing a song they start singing along even if they haven’t heard that song in ages, that song is there somewhere and all it needs to do is have a couple chords first line of a song and they’re off for the races,” he said.  “It’s just a way to give back to these people who have raised families and part of the communities.”

He volunteers about once per week.

Worth every second of his time, even if they don’t say a word.

“They’ll get this far away look in their eyes and you know there’s a movie playing in their head from some other part of their lives,” Berg said. “Sometimes they can tell me about that and sometimes they can’t express it but you can see it and that’s really meaningful for me.”

Hospice of Michigan is always looking for volunteers. To fill out a volunteer application click here, or call Kathy Lietaert at 231-779-5409.

The next volunteer training dates are March 2 in Cadillac, March 3 in Alpena, March 8 in Gaylord, and March 9 in Traverse City.

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