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Sweet sounds for hospice patients

Angie Cacciapaglia,

Volunteer brings joy to end-of-life patients with music

In 2010, Angie Cacciapaglia, 59, read in the newspaper that hospice volunteers were needed at Augusta Health. Her husband had died four years earlier, and she was familiar with the struggle families often face when a loved one is near the end of his or her life.

Cacciapaglia, who lives in Waynesboro, Virginia, sold office supplies for 32 years but always played guitar as a hobby. She thought to herself, Maybe I could play music for people.

“What inspired me is that I just love loving others — people going through sad times or people whose parents or loved ones have Alzheimer’s,” she says. “I could see how music just brings them back and how music soothes the soul.”

Special connection

Now retired, Cacciapaglia plays guitar at Augusta Health’s hospice facility, the Shenandoah House, once a month. She also visits four hospice patients at their homes each week. She formed a special connection with one of these patients, Frank Pullin, who died in March.

“His story was wonderful,” Cacciapaglia says. “He was a Navy veteran, and I’m a mom of two Army sons. And hearing his old stories — I just loved it.”

Cacciapaglia always asks patients what kind of music they like. If she doesn’t know it, she’ll learn it. Pullin, 85, who had dementia, was partial to old country and bluegrass music.

“He really enjoyed the old songs,” says Ruth Pullin, Frank’s wife. “On a recent visit, she had a bunch of Patsy Cline songs. He looked forward to her visiting. He came out to the living room and he didn’t stay there for very long, but he stayed on the couch and listened to her.”

Deep sense of fulfillment

According to Lori Showalter, volunteer coordinator at Augusta Health Hospice of the Shenandoah, many of the hospice volunteers come to Augusta Health because they’ve had a personal experience with hospice and want to give back. Other volunteers are retired healthcare workers who want to be involved in the community again. And some volunteers are people who simply want to do a good deed.

Showalter says there is a fit for anyone and everyone interested in volunteering with hospice. Volunteers include everyone from hairdressers and massage therapists to gardeners and quilters.

“I love these volunteers,” Showalter says. “I can’t say enough about them. I think they are just extremely generous people to be willing to give of themselves this way for no money in return. They don’t get a paycheck because they get a direct deposit to their heart.”

Learn more about becoming a hospice volunteer at Augusta Health or talk about sharing your special skill or talent. Contact Lori Showalter at lshowalter@augustahealth.com or (540) 332-4904.