Oldy Oldenburg with Lin Sue Cooney, director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley. Oldenburg was recognized for his 15 years of service. (Photo by Delbert Vega, Hospice of the Valley)
By Beverly Medlyn
If you’re looking to add meaning and people to your life, consider volunteering for Hospice of the Valley, says Oldy Oldenburg, who has volunteered 16 years.
“If you’re sitting back watching old movies on TV and worrying about your bills, start worrying about somebody who really needs help,” Oldenburg said. “Those family caregivers really need help and relief, and they really, really appreciate it.”
Hospice of the Valley’s next volunteer orientation is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2 and 8 at the not-for-profit agency’s administrative office, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, 85014. Advance registration and application are required: hov.org/volunteer or call (602) 636-6336.
Many volunteers, like Oldenburg, were drawn to the work because of personal experience. His first wife of 34 years died on hospice care in 1996. After he remarried, he decided to give back by volunteering for Hospice of the Valley.
Oldenburg, who lives in Ahwatukee, currently visits three patients. One woman cannot walk and lives in an assisted living facility while her husband, who has cancer, lives at home. She worries about her husband and shares her concerns with Oldenburg. Another male patient is single and alone, with no family to look in on him. A third patient lives at home with his wife, who looks forward to Oldenburg’s visits so she can get out and do things.
Over the years Oldenburg has cared for people with dementia, heart and lung disease—just about every ailment there is.
“I feel I have connected with every single person I’ve cared for. I have never felt rejection. And I have never heard them feel sorry for themselves. People are level-headed. They’re cool,” he said.
At age 82, Oldenburg says age is “just a number” that hasn’t slowed him down. Before he retired, he worked as a cargo handler for American Airlines, pulling airplanes in and out of the gates and loading them. He also served in the U.S. Navy.
“What I do now isn’t even a job—it’s just a whole bunch of fun,” he said.
Beverly Medlyn is communications director for Hospice of the Valley.