UNSUNG HERO: Hospice Volunteer Linda Duncan - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

UNSUNG HERO: Hospice Volunteer Linda Duncan

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MARION -- In this week's Unsung Hero, a local hospice volunteer is being praised for going the extra mile for her patients. She's spent the last decade as a volunteer taking on more patients than the norm.

At a loved one's end of life, many families are emotional and stressed and call for hospice care for help.

"There are days you don't know if you're going to make it or not," said Samuel Barnwell. 

In February, Samuel's mother, Mamie, was down to 74 pounds when doctors suggested the family seek help.

"She's in the later stages of dementia but she can't walk anymore or she sleeps most of the days anymore," said Samuel. 

Hospice of Southern Illinois volunteer, Linda Duncan, has been with Mamie ever since.    

"She's a very compassionate person. She's dedicated. When she's here, she's engaging. She's just like one of the family now," said Samuel. 

Linda enjoys developing friendships with patients like Mamie. The two watch TV together, hold hands and Linda often reads and prays with her.

"It's just her knowing that someone's there who loves her and cares other than family," said Linda. 

Linda has been with Hospice of Southern Illinois for 11 years now.

"She says it's her mission and I totally know it is her mission and we just feel so fortunate to have her," said Donna Cunetto.

Cunetto is the volunteer coordinator for hospice and says participants usually see one to two patients at a time and are asked to spend up to 8-hours a week with them. She said, last year, Linda spent 458 hours with patients and in 2016, over 500 hours.

"That's why I call her our superstar. She sees about eight patients right now," said Donna. 

Linda retired as a Johnston City school teacher after 36 years and says she had two callings in life, teaching and being part of hospice. Even though every relationship comes to a sad ending, she said this is how she serves God.

"You have to keep loving the people and being close to them, even though you know it's going to hurt. You have to do that," said Linda. 

Samuel calls Linda their angel and said she comes whenever they call.

"She's our hero. She's my mom's hero," added Samuel. 

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