When Bob Olson retired
and moved to Hood River, he asked his doctor what he could do to really be of service to the community. He wasn’t looking for a club, or lots of meetings, but just some service he could do personally that would really make a difference to people.
Without hesitation, his doctor replied, “Get into Hospice work. They particularly need men.”
That was ten years ago, and Bob has been in Hospice work ever since, becoming a volunteer at Heart of Hospice as soon as it opened.
He remembers one client in particular who couldn’t feed himself near the end of his dying process, so Bob would help him to eat. The man was very religious, so Bob would pray aloud with him before meals—something he would not normally do, but gradually became comfortable with. He administered this man’s very last meal. Noticing a lot of restlessness and anxiety, Bob put on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and noticed that the man calmed down quite a bit. He died later that day.
“I learned then that music is a great tool,” said Bob. He added that one reason he has chosen Hospice work is that it makes him feel so good—about himself, and about the human condition. When people ask him if he finds his work depressing, he answers, “No way!”
“Most of the people I have met are wonderful,” he said. “Oh, you get a crabby one once in a while, but for the most part they are exceptionally kind, pleasant, and grateful for the time I spend with them. They have such interesting stories! It’s fascinating to hear their experiences.”
Bob visits clients once or twice a week, and has confined his visiting area to Hood River County. Usually he goes to private homes, but he has seen people in most of the area care facilities as well.
Bob loves to work in the garden, read, and interact with his dogs and cats. In addition to his hospice work, he does volunteer work at Riverside Church, the FISH food program, and Faith in Action. He lives in Hood River, is married, and has two daughters, both of whom work for non-profit organizations. His wife is an active volunteer in town as well. You might call the Olsons a “helping” family.