News | May 1, 2015

Wayne Granneman remembers pieces of the car fly around him, as a crack made its way across the windshield. He was in an intersection in Montana, just a short distance from his fishing destination.

A Dodge Ram pickup truck had just hit his car.

Once everything stopped, a nurse came to his window and asked him if he was OK. “I’m still taking stock,” he told her, “but I think I’m alright.”

He was OK – and went on to finish that fishing trip. But it took Wayne awhile to process through what happened that day. As time went on, he came to realize he’s been fortunate in his life to have people care for him when he needed it.

One day, he saw an announcement about volunteering to be a Befriender at Genesis Medical Center. He decided to put his skills as a middle and high school counselor to work, and take the training to be a friendly, listening presence to people in the hospital.

He now goes every Monday to Genesis, attends a chapel service, then makes rounds on one of the hospital floors. “I knock on the door, introduce myself, and say I’m here if you’d like to visit for a bit,” he said. “I’ve got all kinds of time.”

He asks open-ended questions to start. Then he lets the patient guide the conversation – about family, friends, memories of their lives, their struggles.

“I’ve met some really interesting people going through some hard times,” he said. “I’m here to listen to their stories.”

Wayne’s seen plenty of time in a hospital bed himself. With 14 stents in his heart (a new one was just inserted several weeks ago), he knows how valuable it can be to have someone listen.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of this,” he said. “I’m giving back what I’ve gotten from others.”

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