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October 27, 2013

Good Deeds: Hospice volunteer helps any way he can

Howard Foust is a quiet presence at Harden Hospice Care of Kansas.

Howard Foust is a quiet presence at Harden Hospice Care of Kansas.

Mostly he sits bedside, reads aloud or chats. Sometimes, he prays or sings.

“My job is to help them in any way that I can no matter who they are and what they are,” Foust said of the patients he volunteers to visit.

“I’ve gone through a number of deaths in my own family and some of them were in hospice. And it’s just been really important to me to try to be with people when they are dying.”

A blacksmith by trade and retired chaplain, Foust, of Haysville, has spent years providing simple comforts to the terminally ill and dying. He began volunteering at Harden Hospice’s Wichita location, 2622 W. Central, in 2007.

Before that he visited patients in other hospices and nursing homes.

Now 77, Foust routinely sees four people living at Harden — the others have died in recent months, he said — and is on-call in case someone needs company during their final hours.

“Even if they can’t hold a conversation, I don’t care,” Foust said. “I’ll talk to them anyway. And laugh with them. Or touch them. Or hold their hand. Or give them a hug before they leave.”

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