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So, this patient complains a lot. The family is never happy. The Son keeps making veiled threats about his friend, the lawyer. The house is messy and you have to step over quite a bit of “stuff” to get into the house. Outside there are several big dogs in the backyard, and sometimes they come in. The house is located down a gravel road and you have to get out and open a large wooden gate to drive through. The family smokes and oh, there is no air conditioning.

The funny thing about the above scenario is I have placed volunteers in these types of situatiosn for many years. It was always a badge of courage, a reason to help the toughest cases. Volunteers are troopers.

But now add to that, and I quote, “this family has a history of violence. The son has been arrested numerous times for drug possession. There is a host of guns in an unlocked cabinet in the home. The spouse is in drug rehab. They really need a volunteer to sit with the patient while the neighbor takes the spouse to court ordered drug rehab.”

Ahhhhhhhh, ok, let me go down my list of available volunteers and see which one is either a) crazy, b) self-destructive or c) gullible.

The “good old days” of volunteerism are gone. We buried that model years ago. We now live in a world of risk assessment, liability, changing family dynamics and new volunteers who honestly KNOW all of this.

Hmmmm, so I say to the person requesting this mythical robot of a volunteer (with a bullet proof vest) “would you be comfortable placing your mother or father in this home?” Of course the answer is “I never thought of it in that way.”

Yes, well, our volunteers happen to be someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, best friend, what have you. They are actually people, with good hearts, who expect us to place them carefully and wisely. So, next time you forget that, ask yourself if you would like to see your mom get hurt in the home of a stranger. If you are not there to protect her, who will?  Oh, right, the volunteer department will!