DEAR SUN SPOTS: Do you want to make a difference in the lives of hospice patients facing the end-of-life, as well as to their families? Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice, a nonprofit organization, is looking for volunteers to join the hospice team, providing companionship to patients and respite for family members.

Volunteers are needed in the Lewiston, Augusta, Norway, Bridgton and Farmington areas. 

They will learn about the history and philosophy of hospice, family dynamics, spirituality, communication, the adult disease process and other end-of-life issues. Needed are a love for helping others, a commitment of one year, the willingness to commit to two to four hours per week, and the ability to attend the 21-hour Hospice Training.

New online training includes some in-class time. Classes start in Lewiston on Sept. 17, in Harrison on Oct. 3, and in Farmington on Oct. 12. For more information and to register, contact Volunteer Resources at 795-9580 or email [email protected] — Kathy, no town

ANSWER: I can personally attest to the fact that this training is very worthwhile. The time spent helping others who are at the end of their lives and providing respite to those who are their faithful caregivers is a very gratifying experience.

I would also like to include the following note that came in from one of our readers recently. I think it fits with this announcement perfectly as you consider what it means to volunteer and to give compassion and kindness to others as you go about your daily lives:

DEAR SUN SPOTS: There is, perhaps, nothing more astonishingly pleasing than helping others. Not even for reward, but just for the very sake of it, for their sake and to solely make their day or their life just a tad better, or a whole lot better. It’s not understood enough worldwide how much just generally being kind can improve someone’s day if they’re on the receiving end. It also will improve yours as well!

If everyone were to start doing at least one good random thing for someone that brings them no benefit, I’m sure the growth in happiness and progression of the world would be exponential! And please, no matter where life takes you, keep on dreaming. — Jacob, no town

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I’ve always been curious about the background audience on TV shows, specifically the judge shows such as “Judge Judy,” “The People’s Court.” Are they paid as extras and, if so, how much? I love your column and thanks for helping so many people. — Paul, Lewiston

ANSWER: From what I can gather, these audience members are paid extras who are aspiring actors. For some shows, transportation, meals and airfare are paid for. The actors are expected to be enthusiastic and smile, clap, cheer and react on cue. Much of the day is spent standing in line or waiting around, but it gives them a chance to be seen. Sometimes their hourly rate amounts to less than minimum wage but in the case of Judge Judy’s show, the rate is somewhere between $150 and $500.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]