This summer, Matthew Liquori ’18, has been devoting his time to the Joan Nicole Prince Home (JNP) located in Scotia, NY as a Community Service Funded Intern by the Class of 1973. JNP is a special place that houses terminally ill patients that have three months or fewer to live. What makes this place so special is that only two patients can live there at a time. With all the volunteers that come in to help, the patients can live comfortably without the burden of friends/family having to worry about them.
One of the many important parts of volunteering is getting new residents settled at the home. Matthew remembers moving in a new resident, Scott, who didn’t seem all that thrilled to be at JNP, but as soon as Matthew asked what his favorite food was, Scott beamed with excitement. Scott told them about his love for Greek gizzard soup. Matthew recalls, “For 20 minutes, he described to us the history of the soup and his Greek heritage, how it’s made, and how it makes him feel practically invincible.” After, Matthew and another volunteer went to the store and bought everything they needed to make the Greek gizzard soup. Scott talked the volunteers through everything and once they finished, Scott could not wait to try it. With more and more home cooked meals, Scott claimed that he had not felt this great in a while. Coming from a hospital where he was basically bed-ridden, Scott started to gain more weight and even start walking laps around the house.
Since JNP only serves two patients at a time, the home does not fall under the laws of NYS. With this said the volunteers have a little more freedom with what they can do with the residents there. The residents of JNP can eat what they want, arrange their rooms however they would like, and much more. In his journal, Matthew mentions, “We recently had a resident that would have ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; as the saying goes, if that’s what they want, that’s what they’ll get!”
With all the joy that comes out of volunteering at JNP, there is also the uncertainty that comes along with it. Matthew, along with everyone else involved with JNP, doesn’t know when the residents are going to pass away. With the help of Dr. George Giokas, Matthew has learned to cope with this. Dr. George Giokas, director of palliative care at Ellis Hospital, met with volunteers of JNP and told them, “…in order to be a good medical provider, one must be comfortable with not knowing.” This stuck with Matthew as he continued working at JNP, along with what Executive Director of JNP (Sue) had to say at his orientation. Sue told the incoming volunteers that JNP is a “home for the living”; Matthew remembers this and continues to make the residents as comfortable as possible and take it day by day.
Matthew Liquori’s experience was featured in the Times Union. You can read about it and view pictures by visiting the following link: http://m.timesunion.com/local/article/Life-lessons-from-the-dying-11717960.php#item-38491