Towne Salute: Paul Mullenhoff, Hospice of the Chesapeake
Feb 25, 2016 12:48PM ● Published by Becca Newell
Up until 10 or so years ago, Paul Mullenhoff knew little about Hospice of the Chesapeake in Pasadena. But during his wife’s five-year battle with breast cancer, he became her primary caregiver and in her final months, a friend suggested he reach out to the nonprofit organization.
“They made it infinitely easy for me for the rest of the time I was taking care of my wife,” he says. “I had the most wonderful wife; she never complained.”
After Judy’s passing in 2006, Mullenhoff continued to work for a couple of years until, as he says, “it was time to pay back.” And he knew exactly where to go.
He enrolled in the Patient Care Volunteer course at Hospice of the Chesapeake and soon began volunteering, offering aid to caregivers, along with support and friendship to patients.
“To me, it was a job that needed to be done,” he says.
Soon after, Hospice of the Chesapeake established a veterans committee and, as a retired Navy captain of 30 years, Mullenhoff didn’t hesitate to join the six-person group, which later became popular for its Honor Salute presentation.
“It was just serendipity that we did the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program,” he says. “I was really blessed that the people at Hospice were as responsive [to the program] as they turned out to be.”
The committee began reaching out to those veterans under hospice care, recognizing them for their service with an Honor Salute—a formal ceremony in which vets are presented with a certificate of appreciation, pinned and given a patriotic, handmade quilt, and handed “thank-you” cards crafted by local elementary students.
As a former Navy man, Mullenhoff has attended more than a dozen of these presentations, even stepping in a few times when active USNA Midshipmen are unavailable to participate.
Not only has this committee now grown to more than 30 members, with about 40 honor salutes in 2014, and significantly more than that last year, but, according to Hospice of the Chesapeake’s Media Communications Specialist Elyzabeth Marcussen, Mullenhoff’s actions were instrumental in bringing the ceremony to other military institutions and hospices across the country.
With such an impact on this ever-expanding program, it’s not surprising that Mullenhoff received the 2014 David William Malicki Veterans Service Award at Hospice of the Chesapeake’s Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.
By late last year, Hospice of the Chesapeake’s We Honor Veterans program reached Level Three status from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. This designation reflects the organization’s commitment to helping veterans receive end-of-life care.
Earlier this year, it reached Level Four, the highest level. And now that’s achieved, Mullenhoff says he hopes to return to his original volunteer duties in patient care.
“The program with veterans is now going so strong, but the people that I was trying to help are the patients, so I’d love to go back to providing care and comfort to them,” he says.
Do you have a volunteer to nominate? Email Becca Newell at Bnewell@WhatsUpMag.com