SPAN students send hospice patients hope

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Students in Chilton County's SPAN program write and decorate cards to send to patients at SouthernCare Hospice.

Students in Chilton County’s SPAN Program spent time Tuesday afternoon writing and decorating cards for patients at SouthernCare Hospice in Clanton.

Nina Shields, volunteer coordinator at SouthernCare, began searching for volunteers in different organizations around the community this year.

About three months ago, Shields contacted SPAN administrators about volunteer opportunities for their students. She said SPAN counselors Amanda Hicks, Tina Blanchard and Randy Strattis were excited to incorporate their students in the partnership.

“I think it’s helped them think of others less fortunate than them,” Hicks said. “I thought it would help them realize there are people out there suffering, and it would make their problems not seem so bad.”

SPAN, which stands for Special Programming for Achievement Network, is a program that provides comprehensive academic, social, behavioral and employability skills training for high-risk teenagers in Chilton County.

“We only have about 30 students at the time enrolled from the Chilton County school system,” Hicks said. “The program revolves around a point system. We try to reward them for positive behavior and academic work.”

Shields rewarded the students with pizza before they wrote their cards on Tuesday.

“I’m really proud of the students,” said Betty Tidwell, SPAN program coordinator. “It gives them a different experience, too.”

SPAN students assembled goodie bags for the SouthernCare patients last month, and Shields said she plans to have the students paint pictures for the patients soon.

“It’s been a really uplifting experience,” Shields said. “Everything I do, I want to do for our patients and the caregivers.”

Shields said SouthernCare is currently in great need of more hospice volunteers, especially those who visit patients at their homes.

“If anyone wants to be a volunteer, I have arms wide open,” Shields said.

For more information, visit and click on “volunteer.”