Hospice Choir extends volunteerism to aging farm animals

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 2:30pm

    The Homeward Bound Hospice Choir arrived at Apifera Farm in Bremen and presented the farm animals with a special concert. Apifera Farm is a non-profit organization with a mission of sheltering and caring for older animals and those with special needs. The Farm extends their mission by sharing the companionship of these animals with elders in the Community.

    The Homeward Bound Hospice Choir, affiliated with MaineHealth Care at Home (MHCAH), is a group of diverse and dedicated volunteers who bring the comfort of therapeutic song to individuals who are at final stages of life. The choir will visit area hospitals, nursing facilities and private homes throughout Lincoln County at the request of hospice patients or their families. Patients or families can request songs or hymns, and the choir has a soothing repertoire to choose from.

    Katherine Dunn, an owner of Apifera, had met one of the choir singers and asked if they might want to sing to the animals.

    “I just love the idea and compassion behind a hospice choir, and we do have a few elder animals here that are in the end stages of life, so I thought it would be a beautiful gift for them,” said Dunn.

    Upon arriving at the farm, the choir began by singing to some elder goats, including a very elderly, crippled goat named Else. Else sat contently on the grass listening. The songs they chose were “In the Garden” and “Angels Hovering Around.”

    “It was so poignant to hear the words, knowing it was most likely going to be her last few months,” said Connie Jones, MHCAH Community Liaison.

    The choir completed its concert by singing to a host of animals that included friendly pigs, curious donkeys, and beautiful llamas with a special young llama, Arlo, who provides therapeutic visits to elder guests.

    The power of song, the spirt of volunteerism, and the gentleness of the farm animals radiated across the farm and brought joy to all in attendance. As one volunteer stated: “It may be that Rex Harrison as Doctor Doolittle talked to the animals, but we sang to the animals. And they seemed to listen attentively, gathering around us as we sang.  A great experience!” said Gordon Isleib, who is the Choir’s song leader.

    To learn more about Apifera Farm and the mission of this organization and view videos from the Choir’s visit to the farm, visit www.instagram.com/katherinedunnapiferafarm