Volunteer Lourdes Orozco offers Gentle Touch therapy

Lourdes OrozcoSummer 2024

Lourdes Orozco has touched more patients than just about any volunteer at Mission Hospice – literally. A massage therapist, she has been offering Gentle Touch therapy to our patients for nearly seven years, during which time she has reached well over 100 people.

She says she came to this work after realizing that she “had to stop saying ‘no’ to opportunities.” So when a friend invited her to join her in attending massage school 25 years ago, Lourdes said ‘yes.’

“I didn’t want to touch strangers. But the training was only a month, so I did it, and I’m so grateful – I fell in love with massage.”

The second time Lourdes said ‘yes’ was when she went to hear a talk by Frank Ostaseski, the founder of Zen Hospice Project and a Buddhist teacher in end-of-life care. Frank shared photos of some of his patients who were at the end of their lives. Lourdes says,
“I dreaded seeing the photos, but they were so beautiful and so peaceful.”

Those two ‘yes’ moments were pivotal. For the past seven years, Lourdes has been volunteering with Mission Hospice, offering patients and family members Gentle Touch massage. She uses techniques taught by hospice massage educator Irene Smith – techniques Lourdes and her fellow volunteer Kathy Gaiser are now teaching to other volunteers.

The approach of providing comfort with something as simple as touch, Lourdes explains, is about love, kindness, and respect. “We always explain to the patient what we’re going to do, and ask permission first, even if they aren’t conscious. Even patients who are non-responsive can respond to touch.”

Lourdes with a patient in Mission HouseTwice a week, Lourdes visits patients at Mission House, our hospice house – in addition to visiting patients in their own homes. She works closely with the staff at the house, and sometimes offers massages to them as well.

“When people hear about what I do, they think it is hard. It is hard many times, but it is so beautiful, so peaceful. I learn so much from our patients. What an incredible gift they are giving me.”

When Lourdes isn’t working as a massage therapist or volunteering with Mission Hospice, she loves to read or hang out at the beach, which she finds a peaceful place to sit and thank her patients who have passed.

“Volunteering with Mission Hospice has changed my life. It has helped me find what I was meant to be doing. It is a beautiful gift, and I am so grateful.”