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Linn Receives Spirit of Hospice Award

LENOIR, NC (December 18, 2017)…Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care Volunteer Jeff Linn of Lenoir recently received the 2017 Spirit of Hospice Award from The Carolinas Center at ceremonies in Charlotte. The award is presented annually to a hospice volunteer from North and South Carolina who uses humor effectively, creatively, and compassionately in their work with hospice and further demonstrates the hospice spirit of living each day fully.

“If I can bring a smile to a patient’s face, I’ve done something right,” says Linn, who seeks to help patients and families find the small joys of life even in the most difficult of times. It is more than a motto for Linn; it is simply how he lives his life.

Volunteer Jeff Linn as Santa

“As a volunteer, Jeff is willing to try anything we ask of him,” says Brittany Bonn, volunteer coordinator for Caldwell Hospice.  “He serves patients in homecare, long-term care facilities and at our patient care units.  He provides 11th Hour support, makes Veterans Honoring Veterans recognition presentations to our patients who served in the armed forces, and helps facilitate the Virtual Dementia Tour® to educate our community.  No matter the task, Jeff finds a way to incorporate his joie de vivre into all of the work he does for Caldwell Hospice.”

One way Linn has touched many hospice families is by dressing up as Santa Claus and delivering gifts to patients staying in the patient care units (PCU) on Christmas Eve.  He began this tradition in 2014, with the help of one of the certified nursing assistants, who found him a costume with a beard for that year. However, since then, Linn begins working on his “Santa beard” in June to give an authentic experience to the patients.  When he arrives on Christmas Eve, PCU staff ring jingle bells and escort him from room to room, delivering small gifts and spending time with each patient.

Like many hospice volunteers, Linn first came to hospice because of a personal experience. He had a good friend with a terminal illness, a man who also had a son who was gravely ill. “My friend’s wife was torn—which of them should she stay with?  That was where I could step in as a trusted friend of the family and give comfort,” recalls Linn.

Volunteer Jeff Linn

In fall of 2015, Linn’s wife Pat became a Caldwell Hospice patient after a long battle with cancer. She stayed at the Steven’s Patient Care Unit at Kirkwood until she died in early November. Grateful for the care his wife had received, Linn decided to take some time away from volunteering while he grieved. However, when Christmas came around, “Santa” Linn was still there to visit the patients and families. Though coping with his own loss, he wanted to be there for others.

Caldwell Hospice Nurse Anita Haas spends time with Linn as a volunteer and was one of the staff responsible for his wife’s care.  “Jeff is a kind, soft-spoken, gentle man who willingly shares his life with others,” she says. “He is constantly looking for ways he can help or encourage folks and he continues to do this with even more effort after he learned first-hand what it’s like to lose the love of his life to cancer. He let his experience enhance his abilities to assist others facing similar circumstances. His smile is a valuable asset to our organization.”  

Linn has often partnered with board member and volunteer Barbara Jones on late nights providing 11th Hour support for hospice patients.  “Dressed for his Christmas role of Santa Claus, it is easy to see how Jeff Linn can bring smiles to the faces of patients and their families, but his personality shines every day. Wearing his bold Hawaiian shirt or sporting his leather Indiana Jones hat, Jeff might tell a funny story, perform a little dance, or sing—anything to brighten the moment. His good-humored time with patients is surpassed only by the compassion that he shares,” says Mrs. Jones. “Jeff speaks softly and with reassurance, emitting comfort, care, love, and concern to his patients in their end-of-life journeys.”

The next Adult Volunteer Training sessions will be April 17 and 19, 2018, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Caldwell Hospice’s McCreary Family Professional Center on Pine Mountain Road in Hudson. Attendance is required at each session, and meals will be provided.

To learn more or to register for the upcoming adult volunteer training opportunity, contact Volunteer Coordinator Brittany Bonn at 828.754.0101 or

Caldwell Hospice, the most experienced and only local, not-for-profit hospice care provider serving our area, is committed to providing quality, respectful end-of-life care to our community. For more information about Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, call 828.754.0101 or visit or Facebook.