Comfort, compassion and craft: Volunteer helps families during difficult times

Hospice volunteer comforts patients and families with unique afghan blankets

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Jane Nealey has fast fingers and a giving spirit. This week's Getting Results Award winner has turned her hobby into a way to comfort others during difficult times.

“I love to crochet,” Nealey said while sitting in her living room surrounded by a rainbow of yarn, blankets and hats. “I love to give it away too.”

In fact, she’s lost count of how many items she’s donated to others.

Nealey has been a front desk volunteer at Halifax Health Hospice in Orange City for 10 years. In that time she’s also donated countless crocheted afghan blankets to patients and family there.

“I had a father, two sisters and a brother that had hospice care,” Nealey said. “Death is always very emotional and hospice helped me out and I knew right then I was going to do that too.”

During our visit, Nealey worked on one of her latest creations, a patriotic-themed blanket for a veteran in Hospice care.

“I know some veteran and his family are going to appreciate this. It’s nice to know somebody’s thinking about you, right?”

Zulma Garin, team leader volunteer coordinator at Halifax Health Hospice, said volunteers like Nealey keep the organization going.

“It’s amazing what they do,” Garin said. “They’re my right and my left hands. They are amazing people who choose to be here and we couldn’t do it without them.”

In addition to the hospice afghans, Nealey also makes hats for people in chemo-therapy, hats for newborns and Christmas baskets for needy children.

Nealey was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by friend Janet Mallia.

“She’s so caring and she’s so sweet,” Mallia said. “She thinks that she doesn’t do anything but I think it’s wonderful and that’s why I did it.”

Nealey says she intends to help the homeless community next. She wants to crochet blankets and hats for them in the coming months.

Garin says all hospice locations need volunteers like Nealey. Positions include everything from front desk greeters to kitchen help. Garin suggests you contact your local care center if you think you can help. Applications can usually be found online.

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