Make a Difference, Volunteer


Debbie Kimmick

We have all seen people in the news who volunteer during emergencies and help the needy. But what we almost never see or hear about are those who go out to make just someone smile.

It sounds simple. It is easy to make someone smile, right? But in some situations, it’s not as easy as you think.

My favorite way to volunteer is to take Honey, my three-year-old Havanese, and make people smile. Together we visit hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and memory care units and sit with patients. Honey, the true smile maker that she is, lets them pet and love on her. As soon as we walk in the door, we instantly see the smile start to form. Then the stories come and we are treated to tales about the pets from their childhood or ones they’ve had to leave behind.

Each location is a unique. The training I have been given allows me to determine the best approach with each person or family. Every facility hasDSC_0020 mandatory training on how to act and interact with those afflicted with dementia. In fact, at some facilities the training I have received is the same training their employees go through. Continuous training followed by continuous testing and sometimes I have felt it is over the top, “I’m only going in with a dog”. Then an emergency happens and I respond appropriately and as trained.

DSC_0056At hospitals Honey and I bring comfort to people who are worried, people who have just come out of surgery or some who have just received a life altering diagnosis. Children are always anxious waiting to see the doctor, and Honey knows just what to do.  Some are nervously waiting on a loved one in surgery. They smile; sometimes they laugh; and maybe for a little while they relax. Honey has a way of calming and reassuring everyone.

Rehabilitation centers are fun for us but have their own challenges. This unique environment is dedicated to patients recovering from medical setbacks. The relaxing effect that Honey has on some folks is amazing.  She has helped a patient get to sleep who pain level was so high he was having trouble sleeping.  Sometimes in Rehab there are patients whose body has just been through so much trauma that they cannot get comfortable. In on such instance, Honey crawled into bed with him, cuddled up to his side and laid her head on his chest. He fell asleep while he was petting her. She did not move for 45 minutes and he could get DSC_0068some well-needed rest. Honey knows what’s needed.

Memory care units are magical when Honey makes a connection. The residents do not always know or understand why we are there. Because of the debilitating effects of Dementia or Alzheimer’s their brain just does not connect the dots. This is where patience is critical.  As Honey settles down into their lap I will tell the person in a quiet voice about Honey, describing her personality, the softness of her fur and that she wants to visit. Honey sits quietly nosing a hand and waiting. It is so rewarding so see a small response, an eye movement,  a hand moving to touch Honey. When Honey gets a smile, I just about loose it.

Several times when staff has been escorting us, the person starts telling us about pets they have had as kids. I have seen staff with tears because they have just witnessed the  miraculous connections animals can make.

DSC_0069Being a volunteer is never easy and operating as a pet therapy team is a major commitment. It takes a lot of training and a lot of it with your dog. Honey has had formal training and was awarded the AKC Canine Good Citizen award. Then we went through testing with a nationwide organization to see how we work as a team. I needed to learn Honey’s signals; when she has had enough or the situation was stressing her.  I must know when she is ready to quit for the day or when a patient is making her nervous. It’s been a lot of work but gratifying beyond belief and now we are a seasoned therapy team.

To me the volunteer time Honey and I put in is worth every minute. I am grateful for my bosses, Michael and Teresa Simpson who let me have the time to volunteer. In 2014, as a team, we logged over 120 hours of volunteering which is the equivalent of one million smiles.

So find something you that are passionate about; and find a way to volunteer. While there is no monetary reward, the emotional reward is priceless.

Debbie Kimmick

Marketing Manager

West Valley Visiting Angels

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Angels Becoming Elves

My headshotIt seems like once the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are clean and put away, Christmas comes at us like a runaway locomotive.  And every year that train just picks up speed.

Besides all of the family issues to fret over, who’s going where and what presents to buy there are business issues too.  Clients must be contacted to see who is going to need care on Christmas and New Years day and who of our office staff and Angels are going to be on call.  Seems like many of us are on a dead run and it’s easy to lose sight of what the season is all about.

This year, at one of our weekly staff meetings, our wonderful Marketing Manager, Debbie Kimmick came up with an idea that was quickly and unanimously greeted with a “Yeah, let’s do it.”

In visits to many of our referral partners such as independent living facilities, rehab centers and memory care units Debbie sees that many of the residents have trouble with simple physical tasks like writing or holding an object.  She then wondered how could these folks ever address a Christmas card for their family or wrap a gift for a grandchild.  They can’t.

OK, that’s the problem now what’s the solution.  It’s simple Debbie Continue reading “Angels Becoming Elves” »

Veterans and Anniversary and Thanksgiving

My headshotTuesday, November 4, 2014 4:45 AM

 Yes that is the correct time.  Sometimes I feel cursed that I cannot sleep in but hey, that’s me.

It’s November and November is a special month.

We have Veteran’s Day (which I am one).  Actually it’s Armistice Day, but WWI is so ancient history (not).

It is my wedding anniversary (the 46th this year, now that’s ancient history).

And it’s Thanksgiving (and I am thankful).

Also I couldn’t let this slide. Every two years we have a national election where we can exercise our majority and put the other party in power if we so desire.

Except it seems like it doesn’t matter which party is in power any more, the government still gets Continue reading “Veterans and Anniversary and Thanksgiving” »

Long Term Care: Where to Begin.

My headshotYou Are Here.

You’ve worked hard all your life.  Made sure that you had insurance for the curves that life can throw you.

College fund for the kids, some retirement funds put away for you and your mate.

You’ve looked into buying an RV and hitting the road, volunteering at a hospice agency, learning to play an instrument, even relocating to a foreign country where the climate is tropical and the cost of living much lower.

But then life happens.

A Change of Course

What if the beach chair that you planned to sit it at age 70 turns into Continue reading “Long Term Care: Where to Begin.” »

What’s Your Mantra? Six Benefits of Meditation for Seniors.

My headshotIn this post you will learn six undeniable benefits of meditation for seniors, how to begin immediately and debunking the perception that modern mediation is a religion.

Some of us boomers think that meditation began in the sixties being popularized by the Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but in fact it goes back centuries before that.  Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.

I was a child of the sixties and explored transcendental meditation at the time and really enjoyed its benefits.  Why I drifted away from it I don’t know but that was the sixties and a lot of things just drifted away.

I have recently come back to practising meditation and vow to keep it going this time because I am genuinely benefiting from it.  But here is where I really struggled. I am also a Continue reading “What’s Your Mantra? Six Benefits of Meditation for Seniors.” »

Tips to Protect Seniors From Falling

My headshotFalling.  You think that it won’t happen to you.

That’s what I thought and then I fell.

It didn’t have to happen.

I had just spent about an hour swimming, then Teresa joined me in the pool and we spent about another forty five minutes playing pool badminton.  Afterwards I spotted a couple of leaves that had blown in and I wanted to get them out of my pool.  Putting on my flip-flops, I grabbed the pool skimmer net and walked around the pool.  To the sides and the back of the pool we have a decorative boulders and river rock to the edge of the pool.

In the blink of an eye  the leading edge of my flip-flop caught on a rock and down I went.  On the way down I used my left hip to gracefully bounce off the boulder and then I used my rib cage to hit the rolled edge of the pool.

I was a third of the way into the pool and couldn’t move.

Being a former  EMT I knew that I needed to do a rapid trauma Continue reading “Tips to Protect Seniors From Falling” »

Hospice of the Valley – A Valued Resource

My headshotThere’s no getting around it, there’s a lot of personal suffering in this world. Sometimes you just have to soldier through it but it is always helps (and a blessing to all those involved) if someone comes along side to give you a hand.

End of life issues are just some of those issues that most of us don’t want to think about but can still cause a lot of emotional pain and suffering. And because it is called “end of life issues” don’t be mislead into thinking that it is solely the realm of the aged, it’s not. End of life reaches through out the entire family and there can be a great deal of repressed emotions and unfulfilled needs just below the surface.  We are often called in by Hospice of the Valley to provide additional assistance for Continue reading “Hospice of the Valley – A Valued Resource” »

Announcing an AWESOME New Service

Visiting Angels Peoria AZ

Michael Simpson

Many times the rehab facilities, hospitals and urgent care centers that we partner with call us needing help.  They have a patient that is being discharged to go home but there is no one from their circle of family and friends that are available.

That is when we get a call and sometimes need to get a caregiver assigned and in place in just a couple of hours.  So we have implemented a service which we call “Safe Discharge” and it works like this.

When we arrive at the facility the case manager has already shared some details with us as to the condition of our new client.  The client really just knows that they are getting discharged and that someone is coming to assist them.

We have a final briefing from the case manager, supervising RN and get to know the client.  All this is documented in our “Ready, Set, Go Home” file for the family to keep and refer to as they tend to their loved one.

Page_1We then transport the client to their home, make sure that they are secure, then we can get any prescriptions that need to be filled, groceries bought and back to the house where we Continue reading “Announcing an AWESOME New Service” »

Senior Nap Time…It’s All Good


Visiting Angels Peoria AZ

Michael Simpson

In this post I will teach you everything you need to know about being more productive, richer and better looking…nah.

But what I will share with you is how important napping is, what historical figures thought about the importance of napping (you will be surprised) and some tips on how you can help your senior loved one live a more fulfilling live by catching some afternoon shut eye.

But first, a confession and you will see how this fits in a moment.

I love technology.

I love to find new ways, tools, technologies that will make me Continue reading “Senior Nap Time…It’s All Good” »

Meet Our “Furriest” Caregiver

This is a guest post from our marketing manager, Debbie Kimmick who spreads joy around to the senior community when she brings Honey along.  Debbie has seen first hand how a senior’s day is brightened when they meet Honey, her certified therapy dog.

The Benefits of Therapy Dogs with the Elderly

Honey is our therapy dog which visits seniors

Our Therapy Dog Honey

For centuries, people have keep dogs for protection, comfort as pets and working dogs. During the “Stone Age”, dogs were trained to track and hunt food. Man eventually realized that dogs could be bred and trained to do various tasks such as guarding, sport, tracking, hauling goods, and chasing away rodents.

Large breed dogs are also used for rescuing individuals and security; dogs have even replaced horses for hauling carts when they could not be found.

A “Service Dog” or “Working Dog” is a dog specifically trained to Continue reading “Meet Our “Furriest” Caregiver” »

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Visiting Angels Northwest Valley. Providing quality and affordable home care to: Peoria Surprise Glendale and the Northwest Phoenix Area. Call 623-266-9304


It has been wonderful to have the "angels" come in and take my mom out to lunch and other activities. My mom enjoys Patty and Maria and loves that they take her to do the things she enjoys, keeps her active and engaged.
Barbara, Arizona