By Lin Sue Cooney
Photo Courtesy of Hospice of the Valley

One of the most fulfilling things we can do in life is serve others. Ideally, the happiness we derive is all the thanks we need. But an amazing program called Legacy Corps is making it even more rewarding to help others.

Based at Arizona State University, this national AmeriCorps program matches people in communities across the country with veterans and military families who need support. Hospice of the Valley is thrilled to be the first Arizona partner and receive a grant to fund the program for the next three years.

Of the 20,000 patients we serve annually, about 1,400 are veterans, who often find themselves physically and emotionally overwhelmed. Many need assistance with transportation, grocery shopping or light housekeeping. Now we can help lighten the stress.

“Hospice of the Valley is excited to implement this grant from Legacy Corps and touch more families in our veteran community,” says Volunteer Services Director Stacia Ortega.
Volunteers who join the program are called Legacy Corps members and receive special training in caregiver support. Their participation is invaluable to military families who need socialization, companionship and in-home respite care to ensure their loved ones are not alone while a caregiver takes a much-needed break.

In addition to training, Legacy Corps offers incentives like a monthly allowance and a college tuition award after a year of service. Those who are 55 or older can pass this award to a child or grandchild.

Legacy Corps’ national project director, Jack Steele, says the grant enables Hospice of the Valley to recruit and train 24 volunteers this year.

Among the current applicants are a 19-year-old woman who has volunteered with various nonprofits since age 15 and a 43-year-old speech therapist who wants to help veterans living with dementia. “They both express a vital quality: a passion for national service and excitement about making a difference in their communities,” says Eileen Dullum, Legacy Corps program coordinator for Hospice of the Valley.

David Swindell, director of ASU’s Center for Urban Innovation, which oversees the Legacy Corps grant, sees the program evolving. “Next year, we hope to offer our first course for volunteers to learn about and deliver respite care while earning course credit at ASU.”

To learn more about Legacy Corps for Veterans and Military Families, visit

Lin Sue Cooney is director of Community Engagement at Hospice of the Valley.