by Cherine Whitney, Rhode Island Chapter, Food, Agriculture & Nutrition Division
Inspired by Cindy Romaine to share an idea on 6/12, I am sharing my story. In April 2007 Emily Wild, a geographical librarian at US Geoogical survey presented a Powerpoint on GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Little did I know then that this knowledge would come in handy about 4 years later in ways I could have never anticipated. I was readying myself for my future.
July 7, 2007, my father died in Hospice Care of RI after complications of surgery. This was a significant event. Just as important, is that I used Hospice’s bereavement services for processing my grief.
Two years after his death, I became a Hospice Volunteer. I returned that love that came my way over those years. November 2010 I took a patient to a doctor’s appointment, and also delivered a food basket to him and his fmily. On that delivery, they shared with me that he had just been given 6 months to live. I hugged the wife saying let you find hope and peace for even one hour. April 2011, delivering another food basket (of course in my various seasonal hats ):) I found they had no volunteer to help. In middle May, weeks later, after helping them little, I was asked to find a map of a hiking area the patient had loved. The Hospice social worker wanted him to have meaning and a purpose in his life to help him not think of his impending death. She was planning to use this map for her own hike at a later date. So, using their tip to call the Town Hall, I asked for maps, picked them up May 20. I delivered them to the patient. Talking to him face to face, I found he loved these regular maps. But he needed something else. Using my information interview skills gently, I found out he needed a topographical and/or aerial view map.
After I left to prepare for Penelope Campbells’ talk/stay at my house, I called Town Hall from my car while still on their property. I asked the town clerks if they had this type of map. They said no, but GIS staff might. I called him. He was in. Explaining the urgent need for a Hospice patient, he asked me questions about the map requested. I said I did not know. Then I thought: have him talk to the patient. So, going back into the house, I told them I found someone to help the patient. They spoke. What an excellent, animated interaction!!! We all smiled and laughed! May 23, I picked up the map, a huge 36” by 36” topographical AND aerial. Delivering the information that day, the patient and family were overjoyed. I called the GIS staff person days later to thank him. He was away May 26-June 3! That was meant to be for me to be at that place at that time!
Wait, there is more! Best of all, the GIS guy waived the fee, and said he wanted to help make detailed maps of trails that existed and for non existing maps of trails. This patient’s knowledge, love of life, and nature would be his legacy for the future. He was doing it NOW! He had his purpose. He was making future ready trails! How awesome! I had helped him do this. What a connection!
Many thank yous came from the family, the social worker (who had sought the map for months from another volunteer), and the Volunteer Coordinator. I am honored to have given my skills, knowledge, love, for something that truly is important. The immediate need was met expeditiously. I used all of my skills. I did that EXTRA big time. Thank you SLA, Emily, and Chapter, filling Tony Stankus’, now a Fellow, shoes.
Cherine Whitney received her MLIS from the University of Rhode Island in 1998. She has had a myriad of library experiences from children’s specialist at Providence Public Library, to special collections cataloger at Boston College, to her current position in Research Services at Providence College. For more than five years Cherine has volunteered at Hasbro Children’s Hospital as a Childcare coordinator, reading and playing with patients in the Dental Clinic’s waiting area. With Home and Hospice Care of RI, she does vigils and visits with patients, and has worked with Camp Braveheart, for grieving children ages 4-17 (dressed in her marvelous hats, of course!) Cherine is President of the Rhode Island Chapter of SLA and has been so since 2009.