TROY — Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County volunteer Judi Hittle has been bringing a smile and cheer to patients at Piqua Manor. While she may not be able to go in and visit because of COVID-19, she has created chalk drawings on the sidewalks and window paintings for the residents.
Hittle has been a volunteer with Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County for 10 years, and one of her volunteer activities is facilitating a monthly program called “Petals of Sunshine,” where a group of volunteers makes flower arrangements for each patient with donations from local florists.
“Not only do I enjoy making these bouquets for our patients, I especially enjoy delivering them to the patients. I love bringing sunshine and smiles to the faces of our patients and their loved ones with a simple vase of flowers, hand delivered,” Hittle said. “I have been blessed to meet hundreds of wonderful patients in the Troy, Covington, Pleasant Hill, Bradford and Versailles areas during my time as a volunteer.”
It wasn’t until September 2018, when her mother became a resident at Piqua Manor, that she met the Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County patients living there as well. Since that time, Hittle has volunteered to add Piqua Manor to her area of flower deliveries and friendly visits.
“The first chalking I did was outside my mom’s window after we, as families, were restricted from visiting our loved ones due to the coronavirus,” Hittle said. “I really miss being able to see her and check on her in person. She has dementia and doesn’t quite grasp the why of what is happening. So, I did some window visits with handwritten notes to attempt to communicate with her.”
After the initial chalking, Hittle decided to go big and leave a bigger, colorful message. The following day she received a call from Piqua Manor asking if she would do chalk art or window painting for all of the residents.
“I have been overwhelmed with the response from many patients, and staff as well. It’s not easy to see into the rooms from the outside of the windows,” Hittle said. “However, I always say hello as I stand outside a particular window and give a wave with a smile.”
Patients, aides and nurses have come into patients’ rooms while Hittle has worked outside to share her colorful chalkings and positive messages. Hittle said she has gotten the most patient response from the window paintings, but they also enjoy the outside chalk drawings.
“Judi has brought so many smiles to our residents and staff with these paintings and drawings,” said Pepper Pegg, administrator at Piqua Manor. “We have greatly appreciated it.”
Jenny Weber, volunteer coordinator at Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County, described Hittle as a positive person who always has a smile on her face. “Judi is always willing to share her time and joy with patients and other volunteers,” Weber said. “She is a very creative soul and enjoys making pretty things for others.”
When Hittle first shared her chalk drawings on the sidewalks, the Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County team was thrilled with how great they looked.
“With our volunteers being unable to visit any of our facilities in person because of COVID-19, they have been writing weekly notes to their patients, it’s just not the same as being able to have that face to face experience,” Weber said. “Judi showed us that we could still create a personal experience from the outside in.”
The friendly visits from volunteers benefit the families and loved ones as much as the patient, depending on the situation.
“My years of volunteering experience tell me that these families and patients miss our presence as much as we miss them,” Hittle said. “Personal visits can really make all the difference in a person’s day. I’m happy to be able to supplement my volunteer time with simple artwork of chalk and paints at a facility with such wonderful residents and staff. It’s a win-win for me during this uncertain pandemic time, and I feel very blessed to be able to share my time with Piqua Manor.”
Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County, an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice, has been serving patients in Miami County since 1983. The not-for-profit hospice is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those facing life-limiting illnesses. Its outstanding care has earned recognition from the prestigious Hospice Honors program of HEALTHCAREfirst and Deyta Analytics.