On any given day you can see a group of people sitting in a small corner at Emerald Coast Center nursing facility.
Members of the reading club deal with disease, death and heartache, but there are no tears because of the special attention Covenant Hospice volunteer Brice Horwell gives them.
They enjoy their books, some conversation and milkshakes Horwell brings.
Horwell does more than visit with patients. He becomes their friend.
Horwell brings fresh flowers to the nursing facilities he visits each week. He tours the halls to say hello to each person he sees; he knows most by name.
He also visits hospital rooms and people’s homes.
“I feel like I’m doing something,” Horwell said. “I don’t want to see anyone die alone.”
Horwell, who is retired from the Navy, has volunteered with Covenant Hospice for eight years. He visits his clients weekly, runs errands and finds ways to make hard days better.
“I‘ve done some weird things,” Horwell said, laughing. “There‘s a patient that loves pigs feet. I would never eat pigs feet, but I’m happy to go and get them.”
Tim Morgan is a member of the Emerald Coast Center’s reading club. Morgan, who is no older than 60 but suffers from kidney failure, says Horwell’s weekly visits add joy to his day.
“Life wouldn’t be what it is without this guy,” Morgan said. “He brings us outside contact and is a great conversationalist. It means a lot to have somebody come to visit.
“It really makes a difference and lifts your spirit.”
In the last year, Horwell has accumulated more than 350 volunteer hours through his weekly visits, 11th-hour work and Hospice’s We Honor Veterans.
“He is the last face they will see as a measure of comfort,” said Dennis Krebs, Covenant Hospice’s volunteer services outreach assistant. “That means something to him and it means something to the people he’s with.