“Sometimes you just need a human touch, and that’s where massage comes in,” Venisha Jones says, sharing a smile that can light up any room, and must certainly brighten the lives of all those she touches in her work.
Venisha is a licensed massage therapist who volunteers her time to offer massage therapy to Providence Hospice patients. She’s seen the positive effects that this kind of therapy has on the typical person, but has found it even more rewarding to see the comfort it brings to someone facing a terminal illness
Six years ago, Venisha left a job in retail to pursue her career in massage therapy. “School, financial aid—everything was way too easy,” she says. “I know I was led here.”
Two years ago, Venisha had volunteered with Providence Hospice in a different capacity, helping with office work. But a little over a year ago, one of Venisha’s clients challenged her to volunteer her time again. “I immediately thought of using massage therapy for Providence,” she says. “This is how I earn my living, but why not share it with people who need comfort and relaxation the most?”
The results of her efforts have been tremendous. “For many of them, this is their first massage,” she says. “It’s an honor to be a part of their comfort, to show them what I can do for them.”
“It’s an honor to be a part of their comfort, to show them what I can do for them.”–Venisha, massage therapist
Venisha lets the patients’ nursing staff dictate what she does. “I’m just there to comfort them,” she says. She also chooses her approach based on the health of the client. “I operate from their condition and mood,” she says. “I don’t force them to talk. I do some research on illnesses, diseases, and contraindications. Often, I use very light pressure—arms, legs, shoulders. They sit in their comfy chairs right in their own homes, and I adapt to their needs. I meet them where they’re at.”
Venisha has also seen the emotional results of massage. “Some people are carrying heavy burdens, and a massage can make them feel a release, and they will talk and cry, and that’s a good thing,” she says. “It’s not good to hold that stuff in. I have a lot of empathy by nature, so if I can help them by listening and bearing some of that burden, I will. It’s important.”
She’s also been met with responses from shocked (and grateful) family members who can’t believe she offers her services for free, but Venisha just flashes her trademark smile. “I feel like this is something God gave me,” she says. “Why not give my time away to people who need it?”
Venisha encourages anyone thinking about volunteering to pursue it. “If you want to help someone, do it,” she says. “There are so many places that need help.”
As for Venisha, she has found the right place for her to help. “This has been rewarding,” she says. “I know I’m supposed to be here.”
To volunteer for Providence Hospice patients, or for any Providence community or service, go to www.VolunteerAtProvidence.com.
You can also learn more about Providence Hospice by visiting www.ProvidenceHospice.com.