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Hospice Volunteer Uses Personal Experience for Benefit of Others


The deep timbre of Larry Brereton's voice on the other end of a phone call provides hospice patients and their families a depth of empathy that comes only from experience. It wasn't very long ago when Larry's wife was in the care of Redeemer Health's hospice team. Now he channels an informed compassion to New Jersey families who need the same comfort, as a volunteer for the hospice team.

"Everyone loves Larry," says the team at Redeemer Health's Home Care and Hospice in New Jersey. As a volunteer for the Mercer office, Larry calls patients to check on them, and he makes home visits with the caregivers. The value in his work is a two-way street, he explains. "I'm getting as much as I'm giving. I'm trying to help people, and that's good for both of us."

His wife Evelyn passed away almost six years ago at 62, after a 22-month challenge with cancer that metastasized from her lung to her brain. Larry took care of Evelyn the whole time, but eventually he knew she needed a level of care that he couldn't provide. Her doctor referred them to Redeemer Health, and the nurses, social workers and chaplains gave Larry and Evelyn the end-of-life care she needed.

Married in 1979, Larry and Evelyn had successful careers and raised twins. Larry was a director in computer technology, and Evelyn's PhD from Rutgers University resulted in three patents. When Evelyn passed away, Larry knew he wanted to volunteer to keep busy and to help people, even while recuperating from a knee replacement during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was with Evelyn's hospice team that Larry found a way to give back.

"When Larry is included in a hospice patient's experience, a level of comfort, compassion and empathy is two-fold," said Suzanne Scarpa, BSN, RN Director of Clinical Operations. "First, he's a wonderful volunteer, a great listener, and a source of comfort for hospice patients and their families. But he also has personal experience with hospice care, and that makes him an invaluable resource to our patients."

To learn more about palliative care and hospice care in the home, visit Redeemer Health's website, or call 888-678-8678 to find out how you can access care for a loved one. If interested in volunteering with our NJ Hospice team, please reach out to Spiros Ballas at 609-695-3461.