Rachel Keith, Odyssey Hospice
When Rachel Keith started volunteering in high school, she didn't know serving others would become a lifelong passion. Now, she balances volunteering with her busy military career and family, providing end-of-life care at a hospice she found through VolunteerMatch.
By Gina Cargas, Communications & Social Media Intern
Rachel Keith is a busy woman. She's an active member of the Texas Air National Guard, a criminal investigator for the Department of Defense Police and she helps run a nonprofit serving women veterans. Of course, that's not to mention her four children, two stepchildren, future plans to attend law school or current reign as Mrs. North Texas International.
Yet she has made volunteering an important part of her life. For Rachel, volunteering is more than a hobby. It's a lifelong commitment.
"I believe love is an action, not pretty words or an empty promise...We need to practice what we preach," she said. "I love volunteering because it truly is love in action."
Rachel's been acting on her passion for volunteering since a young age. She served on her high school community service committee, successfully campaigning to make community service hours a requirement for graduation. Since then, she's welcomed fellow troops home to the States, delivered toys to families during the holidays, volunteered at her church and performed a variety of other services.
"You may not feel like getting up early on a Saturday to help build a house for a disabled veteran, but you feel amazing afterwards because you know you did the right thing," she explained.
She also involves her children as much as possible, imbuing her kids with the same selfless spirit. Enlisting their help with cooking and chores, Rachel hopes to teach them lessons in thoughtfulness and teamwork that they can later apply on a bigger scale.
Sometimes, she brings them to events to help out, or at least see their mother helping others. Already, she said, she's reaped the rewards of teaching by example.
"My son volunteers to help with our church garage sale and my daughter loves to do service projects with her Girl Scout troop," Rachel said. "Volunteering expands our world and helps us learn from and experience things that we might not have had the chance to see."
She believes that anyone has the ability to volunteer, no matter their profession, age or situation. Whether she's helping female veterans or cleaning up a local park, Rachel views service not as an obligation, but as an enriching and natural part of life.
And despite her crowded schedule, she claims that balancing her career, family and service is not as difficult as it may seem.
"As an investigator, I have established relationships with people and organizations that help victims and military members, whether it's referrals to agencies that can provide shelter or counseling and legal aid," she said. "I think everyone has natural strengths, so if you capitalize on those and find ways to share your gifts with others, that is what you are meant to be doing."
For Rachel, the benefits of volunteering are far greater than the ability to capitalize on her strengths. Volunteering allows her to demonstrate her love for humanity, something she believes is increasingly more important.
"With our busy schedules, shaky economy and disconnect from real face-to-face human interaction, I like working with others — saying ‘hey, there are people that care, I am one of of them and I am here to help and be a part of that team.'"
Currently, Rachel is a regular volunteer at Odyssey Hospice, a hospice center that she found through VolunteerMatch.
"The people are amazing to work with," she said. "They are so sweet and grateful, although I should be thanking them for allowing me to be a part of someone's last days."
Rachel will retire from her military positions this year, and plans to finish her Bachelor's and head on to law school. She also plans to continue volunteering.
"I'll also focus on Sisters In Arms, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve, unite and empower women veterans," she said. "This fall we are bringing a one-day leadership seminar to active duty, reserve and guard military women. We have so many other projects in the works, so I am very excited!"
One of the largest hospice providers in the country, Odyssey provides personalized care and support to thousands of patients and families nationwide each day. Odyssey aims to improve the quality of life for patients facing terminal diagnoses and their loved ones.
Corporate Headquarters: Gentiva Health Services
3350 Riverwood Parkway, Suite 1400
Atlanta, Georgia 30339
Check out Odyssey Hospice opportunities on VolunteerMatch.
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