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Pastoral Care Volunteers Learn Art of 'Listening'

The St. Joseph's Hospitals Pastoral Care Volunteer program is accepting applications.

Pastoral Care volunteers fill a vital need at St. Joseph's Hospitals. They serve patients and families facing some of the most difficult times in their lives. To prepare, the hospital trains the volunteers in many aspects. But the most important lesson they learn is the simple art of listening.

A new 5-week training course for volunteers will begin in October. The hospital is currently accepting applications for volunteers to serve at St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Joseph's Children's, St. Joseph's Women's and St. Joseph's Hospital-North in Lutz.

Volunteers commit four hours per week for a year.

The need for volunteers is most great at the three hospitals on the main campus at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Tampa, however volunteers will be accepted at all four hospitals, said Jaqueline Tolley, spokeswoman for St. Joseph's Hospital-North.

Patch sat down with Jan Hoyt, coordinator of the hospital's pastoral care volunteers, to learn more about what goes into training this group of people.

Patch: What exactly do a pastoral care volunteers do?

Hoyt: Pastoral care volunteers make visits to patients as representatives of pastoral care. They listen to the patients and are present. It's our honor to pray with people if that's what they want, but it's not our agenda.

Patch: Give me a scenario of how pastoral care volunteers do their job.

Hoyt: They go up to the unit and they will introduce themselves at the door and if the patient gives permission they come in and make the visit. They let the patient know what is available for them no matter their denomination. We're looking at holistic care of the patient. The spiritual care, we see as part of the holistic care.

 Patch: What do you cover in the training?

Hoyt: We do a large portion of the training on listening and honoring the theology of the patient. We don't take our own theology into the room. We talk about grief. Our biggest piece, the part we stress the most, is listening and being present. That's huge.

Patch: Why is listening so so important?

Hoyt: It's amazing the power that listening has in a person's healing. It's an amazing thing. We're not there to change anything or correct anything. As they tell their story, it's possible for great healing to occur.

Patch: Is there an age requirement for becoming a pastoral care volunteer?

Hoyt: We've had volunteers from their late 20s on up.

Patch: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Hoyt: I think it's important to honor that we were founded by Franciscan Sisters, so we're tuned into their mission of acceptance and compassion and that's why volunteers accept people where they are, irregardless of their religious affiliation.

Want to volunteer?

The next five-week training session begins Thursday, Oct. 4. The application deadline is Sept. 20.  Please allow at least two weeks for processing of applications.

For more information or to apply, call Jan Hoyt at St. Joseph’s Hospital Pastoral Care Department, (813) 554-8402.

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