"They can all be supported during this time of transition," says Spiro Ballas, a Pennington resident who makes an hour-plus commute to West Orange to work as volunteer coordinator for Saint Barnabas Hospice and Palliative Care Center.
"Hospice provides the opportunity to have somebody else help the patient, to give the caregiver a rest.Hospice workers stay with the patient so the family members can go out for a while.Plus it's a new person to help everyone understand the process that's going on."But," he
continues, "hospice is often under-funded."To give a little aid to those who provide comfort, Mr. Ballas has produced a limited edition two-CD set of mostly original Christmas and Hanukkah music, Holiday Heart (Volunteer Records).
The benefit CDs are an independent project for the music-loving Mr. Ballas
, who used to publish The Splatter Effect
, an alternative music magazine."I stayed away from music for a while until I started to put together the first CD," he
"Some of the local bands submitted material once I got the word out that I was looking," Mr. Ballas
"I think the Terri Schiavo (case) taught us how important it is to talk about end-of-life issues with family members, before such concerns are forced upon us," Mr. Ballas
says."It would be good if understanding hospice could be part of the conversation."Mr. Ballas
came to work at St. Barnabas
in a roundabout way.He has a degree from Rider University and was, at first, more interested in music, pop culture and publishing.
However, a combination of circumstances caused him to fold the magazine.Refocusing his
life, Mr. Ballas
grew more interested in counseling and for a while was in the master's program at Rider
in counseling services.But it was through volunteer work at Cabrini Hospice
in New York City that he
decided to concentrate on bereavement and loss and ended up at St. Barnabas
."I realized hospice was where I wanted to go, so I found this position and I've been happy ever since," Mr. Ballas