More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Still helping: Disease doesn't slow volunteer's efforts

Friday, November 16, 2001
By Ken Palmer

Multiple sclerosis ended her nursing career, but it didn't stop Maxine Bloomfield from helping people in need.

As her youngest son was finishing high school, Bloomfield signed on as a volunteer with the fledgling Community Home Health & Hospice, then based in Fenton.

That was in 1981. Twenty years later, she still is volunteering at the hospice, now located at 2360 Stonebridge, Flint Township.

"She's always got a smile, a good sense of humor, " said Candy Leitheim, volunteer coordinator at the hospice. "She is always willing to help with anything. She's very faithful and dependable."

The hospice named Bloomfield, 66, its volunteer of the year at the recent annual volunteer symposium sponsored by the Michigan Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Bloomfield couldn't attend the event at Boyne Highlands but was given the award at the hospice.

"We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and we thought it was very fitting to recognize Maxine, who has been here for 20 years," Leitheim said.

A registered nurse who was diagnosed with MS in 1957, Bloomfield was among the first few volunteers to take hospice training in 1981. She cared for patients for a time before her illness forced her to stop.

These days, she spends part of every Tuesday at the hospice facility off Linden Road, shredding documents and handling other administrative tasks, even though her mobility is limited.

The hospice relies on 80 to 90 volunteers to handle everything from laundry and dishwashing to visitingpatients, Leitheim said.

Bloomfield said she is"always volunteering for something." She strongly believes in the hospice movement, which helps improve the quality of life for people who are terminally ill.

"It is a very worthwhile organization," Bloomfield said. "The folks are very nice to work with."

Bloomfield and her husband, Rodger, have three grown sons and live in the Lake Fenton area.

Their oldest son is NASA astronaut Michael J. Bloomfield, an Air Force pilot who will make his third space shuttle mission in March. Michael Bloomfield, 42, will command a crew of six aboard the shuttle Atlantis as it delivers a segment of the International Space Station.

His brother, Mark, 40, is a chef in Columbus, Ohio. The youngest brother, Dave, 37, is an engineering salesman who lives in the Linden area.

As they did for Michael's first two missions, Maxine and Rodger Bloomfield will be at Cape Canaveral, Fla., to follow the launch and mission.

Copyright 2001 Michigan Live Inc