Bethell Hospice Executive Director and Margaleith – “A  very special volunteer”


I trust everyone had a Merry Christmas and had the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. Hopefully you are all feeling a little more rested after the break than at the beginning, I know I certainly do.

Right up until December 23, I was busy at the Hospice doing everything I could to close up all of the loose ends on the accreditation file.  The good news is our November 28 meeting with the consultant resulted in very positive feedback. Aside from a list of minor recommendations, we received word that we are officially ready to be surveyed and we are in a good position to receive a 3-year accreditation.  Before the Christmas break we completed the application process and the majority of the recommendations were addressed.  I plan to be at the hospice during the final 2-3 day survey, which is expected to be in April or May, but otherwise my objective, which was to ensure the organization is prepared for accreditation, is complete.

It was a strange feeling leaving the hospice on December 23rd. On one hand there was a great sense of satisfaction as my assignment is now complete, but on the other hand, it was with a heavy heart, as I know regardless of the relationship I have with the staff and volunteers at the Hospice, moving forward, it won’t be quite the same as it has been over the past 6 months.  It is hard to put into words what this experience has meant to me, so it’s been nice to have some time over the past week to reflect on my PULSE journey and put my thoughts and feelings into words.

My journey started over twelve months ago, when I was reading through the PULSE site and was contemplating whether to speak with my manager about submitting an application.  When I think of what I have learned and experienced as a result of my decision to apply for a PULSE assignment, I am thankful that I didn’t let anything stop me from applying. Every step of the way has been interesting, surprisingly, even the lengthy application process.  The thought provoking questions on the application gave me the opportunity to reflect on my core values and on my personal and career goals.  It also gave me the opportunity to analyze what skills have made me successful in the past and understand how I could apply those skills and be successful in the future in a new role and in a totally different environment.

I never anticipated when I applied to the program how much I would learn and experience outside of my specific PULSE assignment.  It started with the PULSE Orientation, which took place during the last week of April in Philadelphia; this was definitely a highlight for me.  I learnt a lot about all of the amazing work GSK is doing around the world, I had no idea how much we do for under-developed and developing countries. At a time when large corporations are under the “critical eye”, it’s so nice to know you work for a company that gives back the way GSK does, and hence why we are number one on the “Change the World Index”.  I couldn’t be prouder to be a GSK employee. I met interesting people on the Pulse Team and participated in some very thought provoking workshops on international development.  I met past and present PULSE volunteers and was inspired by many of the stories they shared.  It was like meeting your extended family. We shared common values and all had the “GSK PULSE gene“; adaptable, agile and resilient.  The Pulse Orientation was a great time to get to know other volunteers and develop a support system which would prove to be invaluable throughout the assignment.  We had a small group that would Skype regularly to share our challenges and our successes, brainstorm ideas and share perspectives.  We not only learned from our own experiences but also learned so much from each other’s assignments and experiences.  The friendships we formed, I’m sure will last a lifetime.

When we embark on new challenges and opportunities we can never fully anticipate how our lives will be changed, but one thing we know for sure, our lives will never be the same.

So many individuals have touched my life in the past year in so many unique and different ways, albeit most of them will never really know what kind of impact they have had on me.  From the PULSE Team, to my Job-Plus Coach, to past and present PULSE volunteers, to the staff and volunteers and residents and their respective families at Bethell Hospice, there are so many individuals who have inspired me and reminded me that we all have so much to give in our own unique way.  I met volunteers that shared their thoughtful perspectives and have allowed me to see life and death through a different lens. Then there is “a very special volunteer” who showed me that at the age of 87 you can still get up every day, put your lipstick on, smile, be engaged, and make a valuable contribution. I met kitchen volunteers whose passion for cooking, along with a warm smile and big heart, make every plate look appetizing because “we eat with our eyes first”.  Somehow they manage to make every plate look appealing, even to those who no longer have an appetite.  I met nurses and PSW’s that showed me what compassion, kindness and patience really means, and a 96 year-old resident that still had that “joy-de-vie”, meeting every day with humour, kindness, engagement, and an eye for fashion right up until the day she died.  I met resident family members that showed me what true love and devotion really is, and a Board member that showed me what the word commitment really means.

Although this year wasn’t easy, I know wouldn’t trade the opportunity I was given to be a PULSE volunteer for anything.  The year,” 2016”, will always have a special place in my heart because I was a PULSE Volunteer.

People ask me what I will be bringing back to GSK?  My response is “An energized, motivated, confident and very proud GSK employee”.

Thank you for following my PULSE journey.  May the year ahead be a memorable one for you, filled with challenges, opportunities, good health and happiness.

Cheers and best wishes,


“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Dr. Jane Goodall






  1. Thank you Deb for sharing this! What a tremendous experience and a very moving tribute and summary of your time. You’ve made a big difference in people’s lives while you were there and set the table for others to continue to do so while you are away! Fantastic work.. I am proud of you and so happy for you – Greg

  2. I’m so very happy for you and proud of you. When you take on a project, there is no doubt that you give 100%. Your energy and talent always inspire me and so it has been a pleasure hearing about this program and your journey in it. Good for you Deb! – Kim

  3. Deb, you left a lasting impact on the hospice; I witnessed it firsthand. You brought knowledge, expertise and guidance that supported this important project Acknowledge what you took away personally, but never underestimate the impact that you made. I’m so happy that you enjoyed this experience. Well done.

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