CSA Finalist: Barbara Mallet

Hunting and fishing are what brought this month's Community Service Award nominee from Mississippi to the Natural State, but personal heartache is what led her to volunteer.

The Hospice of the Ozarks in Mountain Home was more than happy to have her.

When the hospice house opened its doors in 2005, Barbara Mallet was first in line, ready to go to work.

"Most volunteers come to Hospice of the Ozarks through their own experiences either with or without hospice," says Mallet. "Mine was the fact that I had never heard of hospice before. Growing up in a tight knit country family, naturally when your family gets sick, you do what you can to take care of them. That's what I did, helping my mom take care of my dad who had Alzheimer's. Then, after we lost dad, taking care of mom when she got ill."

It wasn't until a cousin asked her to drop off a donation in her mother's name to the Hospice of the Ozarks, that Barbara truly found her calling.

"She started here as what she calls a girl Friday," says Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Weaver. "She came to data entry and just to help wherever and she has such initiative and would see little things that we could do as volunteers to assist the staff."

Barbara puts in 16 hours a week at the reception desk and helps with billing. When the call came out for a volunteer coordinator, Kathy says Barbara answered with an enthusiastic, "pick me." But it's the interaction with patients and families that makes her such an asset.

"She gets people," says Executive Director Greg Wood. "She will back up and see where they are coming from and begin to relate to them."

"She came up with the idea that whenever we have a new patient come in, she'll bring the family into the day room, give them a little tour," says Weaver. "That's not just to give them a tour but to give our staff time to get the patient settled."

Barbara also came up with the idea of giving each resident a prayer shawl, letting patients and families know they aren't alone.

"I feel I wouldn't be where I am mentally, spiritually, if it hadn't been for the healing that I received helping other people," says Mallet.

Barbara and her husband Alan moved to Arkansas in 1998. She has been a hospice volunteer since 2001.

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