Rigo and Susan

Rigo and Susan are a perfect match. They share many fine qualities, including humility, gentility and empathy. Their personalities complement each other – he’s quiet and reserved; she’s gregarious and enthusiastic. When you’re in the company of this married couple, you feel their love for each other. You feel their positivity and passion for life. You feel their desire to make the world a better place.

Rigo and Susan became retirees in 2017 and decided to dedicate themselves to helping others in their community. They were looking for the right opportunity when an article in the local newspaper caught Rigo’s eye. The Elizabeth Hospice was seeking veterans to visit hospice patients who served in the US Armed Forces. As a US Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War, Rigo felt that the article was speaking directly to him. Susan was also drawn to the opportunity because she was involved in caring for her mother at the end of her life, along with a team of hospice professionals. They decided to reach out to The Elizabeth Hospice’s Volunteer Department to learn more.

For the last three years, Rigo has been officiating pinning ceremonies for veterans who are nearing the end of their life. It doesn’t matter if the person served in a different branch of the military than he did, Rigo is able to build an immediate bond. “I watched Rigo conduct a pinning ceremony with a man who had lost his ability to speak and move his body,” said Lisa Marcolongo, Veterans Specialist for The Elizabeth Hospice. “They communicated through a friend who knew the patient’s military history. It turned out that Rigo and the patient had both served in Vietnam at the same time and were in the same location. When it became clear that they had probably crossed paths because of their assignments, the patient began blinking rapidly which the patient’s caregiver explained was his way of showing his happiness. It was a beautiful thing to witness.”

Susan serves as a patient care companion, visiting her patients twice a week. Some patients prefer to talk; some want Susan to read the newspaper to them; others like to look through photo albums. She takes her cues from the patients, letting them determine how their time together will be spent. “Every person is different, “said Susan. “My goal is to help make their day a little more enjoyable and to let know that they are not alone.”

“We feel very blessed to be part of The Elizabeth Hospice,” said Susan. “Volunteering gives our lives purpose. We get more pleasure than we give.”

The Elizabeth Hospice is honored to be represented by Rigo and Susan. Their regular acts of caring service illustrate the expansive nature of love. If you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities at The Elizabeth Hospice, call 800.797.2050 or email volunteer@ehospice.org.