1. Belcher, David

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Photographer Mark Estes captured these images of nurse April Schirmer and a hospice patient, winning him an honorable mention in AJN's photojournalism contest, The Faces of Caring: Nurses at Work.

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Estes, a professional photographer based in Oakland, California, is a certified hospice volunteer with Pathways hospices in the San Francisco Bay area. He was inspired to volunteer after riding in the AIDS Life Cycle, a 300-mile San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bicycle ride sponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. He was looking for his next volunteer project when he read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the book Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying, written by hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, which inspired him to volunteer in hospice.


Until he is assigned his first client as a volunteer, however, he has taken on a more personal project: documenting how visiting hospice nurses interact with their patients. His focus has been on Ms. Schirmer.


"April is a very joyful, completely devoted, and passionate person who touches people-literally," he says. "She gets down on her knees at eye level to touch them, hug them, and tell them that she loves them."


A photographer since age seven when he received a plastic camera as a gift, Estes is a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute and juggles many projects amid his main passions: bicycling, photography, and volunteering.


"I try to combine as many passions as I can," he says. "Visiting nurses who see clients are fantastically involved. I am more of an observer-for now."