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Jerry Hejka-Ekins named hospice Volunteer of the Year
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Hospice of Emanuel recognized Jerry Hejka-Ekins as the organization’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year due to his dedication and understanding of the individual needs of the patients he interacts with.

Hejka-Ekins won the hospice’s highest honor for volunteer service in April for his work in a variety of Hospice of Emanuel’s programs. With over 400 volunteer hours logged this year alone, Hejka-Ekins has made an exceptional effort to improve the lives of Hospice of Emmanuel patients, according to the hospital.

Hospice of Emmanuel provides care for people in the last phases of an incurable disease. Hejka-Ekins has been a volunteer with Hospice of Emanuel since 2005. In that time, he has served as a family visitor, an office assistant and a support group facilitator.

For the past several years, Hejka-Ekins has been working as a facilitator for Hospice of Emanuel’s “Journey through Grief” support group. He also has knowledge of a variety of religions that he shares with other volunteers. He is now a member of the newly formed Reiki team.

“Jerry also has a personal interest in comparative religions; that's been invaluable for our volunteers," said Emanuel Support Services Coordinator Sandy Ricardo. "At hospice, we serve people of all beliefs and the training he's provided our volunteers on various religions helps us serve this very diverse community. We're fortunate to have volunteers like Jerry who go above and beyond to care for people."

Serving patients on a personal level is part of Hejka-Ekins’ job as a volunteer with Hospice Emanuel. But he puts in extra effort to improve the lives of the patients he interacts with. One of Hejka-Ekins’ cases as a family visitor was working with a patient whose goal was to get married before he died. Hejka-Ekins not only worked with other volunteers to help make that happen, he was even a witness at the ceremony, Ricardo said.

A ceremony was held at Emanuel Cancer Center on April 27 to honor Hejka-Ekins and other hospice volunteers. Heijka-Ekins plans to continue his volunteer work at Hospice of Emanuel and will further his experience with grief support training in Colorado this month.