by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Spark Photography

Support, Care, And Compassion

For Joan Boccio and Paula Githens, volunteering for The Elizabeth Hospice is a rewarding experience that allows them to use their special talents and compassion to make a difference. At The Elizabeth Hospice, volunteers function as an integral part of the care team for hospice patients, supporting patients and families during an extremely difficult time. “I have a strong foundation in working with people who are ill, as well as years of professional experience in the holistic health industry. Personally, I was highly involved in the death transition of both parents and two sisters. I felt it was time to give back to the community using the gifts I have,” revealed Paula.

Paula and Joan are both practitioners of Reiki, the Japanese healing technique that uses touch and massage to transfer healing energy to patients. “As a Reiki master, I was interested in offering my ‘energy healing’ to those in need. I’ve been able to contribute support and care for many patients and families in difficult situations. Their response of gratitude is a reward in itself,” related Joan, who also volunteers at Sharp Memorial Hospital offering Reiki to patients.

When these two compassionate women are not volunteering their time and expertise for The Elizabeth Hospice, they both enjoy spending time with their families and relaxing at Café Merlot at the Bernardo Winery. Joan, a former elementary school teacher, is also fond of traveling, especially throughout the U.S. “My husband and I have spent much of our vacation time visiting all 50 states and many National Parks, enjoying the amazing natural sites of our country,” said Joan.

Paula, who worked in an administrative capacity supporting the chief of surgical oncology at UCSD, just celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband, Larry. “We share a blended family of my two adult sons and their wives and Larry’s daughter, son and three grandchildren. Family is very important to us, as is enjoying the company of friends, riding our bikes throughout the community and hiking on all the wonderful local trails,” stated Paula.

Both Paula and Joan encourage those who are interested in finding out how they can make a difference for The Elizabeth Hospice to visit www.elizabethhospice.org. Volunteer opportunities exist in a variety of areas, such as patient companionship and respite, running errands for patients and their families, pet therapy, art therapy, and providing transportation for patients.


Name: Joan Boccio
Community: Fairway Vistas, Bernardo Heights, Rancho Bernardo
Volunteer Affiliation: The Elizabeth Hospice; Sharp Memorial Hospital
Profession: Retired Educator
Family: Husband
Hobbies: Nature, Reiki, native culture


Name: Paula Casey Githens
Community: Rancho Bernardo
Volunteer Affiliation: The Elizabeth Hospice
Profession: Solopreneur, Life Balance Mentor, Reiki Master Teacher, Therapeutic Massage
Family: Husband – Larry, two sons, two grown stepchildren
Hobbies: Music, yoga, walking, puzzles, reading, fun conversation with friends