Ask Don Fellenz about volunteering at HomeReach Hospice in Columbus, Ohio, and he’ll tell you it’s the most rewarding experience he’s ever had. That’s saying something because Don really loved his Pfizer career experience.
Don began his career with the company as a Chemical Division Technical Service Representative in 1970 and retired 27 years later as Senior Manager in Commercial Development. A few years before his retirement, Don was assigned to Sydney, Australia, followed by The Republic of Singapore, to run development programs in area countries.
“The hardest part of overseas work was enduring 12-hour jet lag after flying back to New York for review and planning sessions,” said Don. He found it very enriching to work with people from other cultures.
Once he retired, Don and his wife Diane enjoyed traveling, attending concerts and plays, spending time with friends, visiting their kid’s families, volunteering at their Senior Center, and daily Scrabble and cribbage competitions. Unfortunately, things changed drastically in late March 2008 when Diane was diagnosed with brain cancer. After considering her options, Diane decided on HomeReach Hospice Home Care, and had the comfort of family and friends until she died peacefully 11 weeks later.
Don was very impressed by the kind and compassionate care Diane received from her hospice team and equally impressed by the bereavement counselors who helped him after her passing. After waiting the required year, he attended training classes and began volunteering.
“The staff and volunteers at HomeReach Hospice are absolutely first-rate. I consider my hospice volunteering to be a sacred trust, as I am with people when they are most vulnerable. And I cannot imagine a more rewarding way to spend some of my time,” said Don.
Don’s primary area is the 11th Hour Program where on same-day notice, he will stay at the bedside of residential care hospice patients when family members cannot be there. The 11th Hour volunteer’s hope is that no hospice patient dies alone. Don also helps in the bereavement program and reception at the HomeReach in-patient facility. He also helps fundraise as a member of the HomeReach Hospice Development Board.
“I’m very appreciative of the Pfizer Foundation’s support of my charitable activities. The Foundation provides a generous 50-percent match, up to $5,000 annually for retirees’ donations, and an annual $1,000 contribution to encourage retirees to volunteer at nonprofits.”
Don is active with other organizations, too. A board member of the Upper Arlington Commission on Aging, Don develops and edits their quarterly newsletter. He’s also the Assistant Treasurer of the Upper Arlington Senior Association, which serves close to 2,000 members.
When not volunteering and working with organizations, Don pursues his many hobbies. “I might be at our Senior Center just hanging out with friends. At home, I’m probably reading or working on a project in my woodworking or model shop, or strumming my guitar. In my model shop, I’m putting the finishing touches on Miss Adventure, a 1:6 scale model single planked mahogany Flyer Class racing hydroplane originally built in the early 1930s.”
Whether Don is volunteering or strumming his guitar, he is enjoying life after Pfizer and adding value to the lives of others.