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This month we’re highlighting four volunteers in honour of National Volunteer Week (April 24-30). We are incredibly lucky to have so many volunteers that selflessly and compassionately contribute their time to support our QHC hospitals. These four dedicated volunteers offered to share what it means to them to be a volunteer and offered a glimpse into who they are as individuals.

Thank you volunteers! Your efforts play a huge role in helping provide compassionate care to our communities.

Meet DONALDA STAPLEY

Co-Convenor TMH Auxiliary Gift Shop

How long have you been a volunteer?

I’ve been a volunteer at the Auxiliary for 15 years.

Thinking back to when you first started volunteering, was there a particular person or reason that drew you into becoming a volunteer?

My dad was in the hospital numerous times, and I was visiting him daily. During one of the visits, they had the Holly Bazaar, so we took him down from the 2nd floor and brought to the bazaar. I was sitting at the lunch table with dad and my sister, and I said to a couple of the volunteers, this would be kind of fun to be in here and be a volunteer and do this kind of stuff. One of the ladies said to me, wait here a minute. I didn't think anything of it, but she went and got the president and said to her, this lady would like to volunteer. All of a sudden, I was volunteering!

What do you enjoy about volunteering in general and with your team?

The people and getting to know different people. The ladies that I work with in here, they're just great, and the four of us go on shopping trips and get to stay overnight. We go to gift shows in Toronto, we just went to a warehouse there as well. We haven’t quite worked out how to travel to the Bahamas and shop there yet. We resell the items and don’t charge tax, so that’s an incentive to shop here.

We each have our strengths, whether it be putting up displays, organizing the new purchases, or shopping. I just got my girlfriend to volunteer, and a lady that rents the other part of our house is waiting for the volunteer package. All the volunteers just are such nice people. 

If you were to share with someone why they should become a volunteer, what would you say?  

It just makes you feel good to know that you're doing something to help the community or the hospital, or wherever you're volunteering. It gives you something to do other than your normal everyday things, and it just makes you feel good to be able to do things when people need you. 

Do you live in the area and what do you enjoy about it?  

I live just outside of Frankford. There’s very little traffic compared to Toronto, and it’s not far from anything that you want to do.

Do you have any hobbies?  

I golf at Salt Creek in two leagues, so two days a week and then whenever I can get anybody else to play. I do that all summer. I used to bowl but that got closed down during COVID. I also enjoy sewing, upholstery, and when I retired my husband bought me a table saw. I built an awning over our deck last summer.

What would you shoot on a golf course, on average?  

My golf score is like my bowling score. In bowling we call ourselves the tramps, because we're on a trampoline, up and down. It’s all just for fun and we don’t keep averages. Our ladies league on Wednesday mornings has over 100 ladies in it. Some play 9 holes, some play all 18. Monday nights is a mixed league and you don’t have to have your husband, you could bring anyone who wants to golf. That’s a lot of fun as well.

Any secret superpowers or hidden talents?   

I worked on Habitat for Humanity houses and learned how to hang doors, and that’s very difficult.

 

Meet ANN CLARK-OKAH

Manager of Intake PECMH Auxiliary

How long have you been a volunteer and what does your role entail?

I started with the Auxiliary in the spring of 2017. In order to become a volunteer, whether it's at the board level or on the floor, or in the shop, everyone has to go through an intake process. So I handle and run that. The process to become a volunteer on the floor involves police checks, medicals and this type of thing, so I take people through that process and then I manage them all the way, until I hand them off to a manager of a particular volunteer area.

Thinking back to when you first started volunteering, was there a particular person or reason that drew you into becoming a volunteer?

All my life I always have volunteered in some capacity or another. Before moving here in the fall of 2016, I had been living in Ottawa for a number of years. Many years before that, while I held a career position, I always either sat on boards or in some way volunteered in one way or another. When I moved to the county, I didn’t know anyone, I thought the best way to meet people would be to volunteer. I have always been interested in working in a hospital environment, so it's a great way to meet people. 

What do you enjoy about volunteering for the Auxiliary?

I enjoy meeting people and getting to broaden my knowledge of the county. Most of my previous volunteering was at a board level, so it's a different type of knowledge and engagement with this type of volunteering and I really enjoy it. I also do a lot of volunteering at a political level which is very activist oriented, but volunteering in this role at the Auxiliary allows me to really being part of the operation and still be connected with people, which I'm really enjoying. I came out of a very busy work life, so this is not a continuation of that in any way.

If you were to share with someone why they should become a volunteer, what would you say?  

It's such a community thing and being part of a community has a real richness to it so. I will get people who will come and ask to work at the Opportunity Shop since they’re together for longer periods of time, and they really make strong friends that way. I would say that becoming part of a community and giving back are the main reasons.

Do you live in the area and what do you enjoy about it?  

I do. It is a bit of paradise for one thing, and for me, proximity to Ottawa and Toronto is important. Living in this area, we have land. We have 4 acres and we have a lot of work on the property. My husband has very few hobbies, so this keeps him busy. I'll go outside, do this, do that, chop some wood, it's absolutely wonderful and what a treasure. 

Do you have any hobbies?  

The property we live on has very much become the hobby, but I'm still quite involved in the politically. I've also started woodworking. I used to do sewing and I thought that when I retired I would finish all these projects that were sitting in my cupboards, but now it's just not interesting me, so I've taken up building things. I recently built a chicken coop, but this was after starting out by building smaller things like a workbench, then building up from there. The chicken coop is now more like a chicken palace, it's quite cute. 

Any secret superpowers or hidden talents?   

I'd say that I'm a good at multi-tasking. My son was over for the weekend and I was tapping trees for maple syrup (which is another hobby), making a railing for our place in Toronto, cooking two major meals for the family, and basically juggling five different things. He complained about something he was working on, and I said to him, "You have no idea!" At one point in my life my husband would be away for 10-12 weeks for his job in international development, and I was taking care of four kids and working a full-time job. It's easy-peasy to manage maple syrup and a couple of meals in comparison!

 

Meet GLENNA ARMSTRONG

President of NHDHA and Convener for New To You

How long have you worked at QHC? 

Eight years.

Thinking back to when you first started volunteering, was there a particular person or reason that drew you into becoming a volunteer?

I had just retired from social work and was looking to supporting my new community as a volunteer. I was at a line dancing class and one of the gals approached me and asked me to volunteer for our hospital. I checked it out and 8 years later I am now president.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I enjoy the comradeship of my fellow volunteers and the positive, happy attitude of the volunteers and hospital staff. The communication with hospital staff is great. I like the sense of accomplishment we have as a group towards benefiting our great little hospital. 

If you were to share with someone why they should become a volunteer, what would you say?  

Volunteering helps broaden one’s social network and helps to integrate one more into the community. Many of the volunteers have retired to this area and being a volunteer can really help them to feel part of our area. Also, to help our hospital to obtain equipment otherwise not available therefore making our hospital more efficient and able to offer treatments one would help to travel elsewhere to receive. 

Do you live in the area and what do you enjoy about it?  

I live in Birds Creek in Bancroft and love the beauty of the area. I consider it one of the most beautiful areas in Ontario. I love the peace, the cleanliness, the unique personality of a small town and all the retirees, which is the majority of our population.  

Do you have any hobbies? Do you like to travel?   

My hobbies are fitness, exercise classes and aqua-fitness. I do not like to travel as much anymore after moving to this area as it is so satisfying to live here. I do like to get away to Myrtle Beach in the winter. I love movies such as Yellowstone and so many I cannot name. 
I do not play sports any longer, but I like to go antiquing, gardening and I decorate to my hearts content. 

Any secret superpowers or hidden talents?   

My superpower is my love of life!
 

Meet MARY ADAMS

BSTU Volunteer (Behavioural Supports Transition Unit) - BGH

How long have you been a volunteer?

I applied to be a volunteer at BGH in December 2012. I assisted in the Aroma Café, Emergency, Sills 3/4 and then the BSTU where I have been since it opened in 2015.

Thinking back to when you first started volunteering, was there a particular person or reason that drew you into becoming a volunteer?

After closing my business in 2011 and moving to this area in 2012, I knew that I wanted to engage in meaningful work while house/pet-sitting internationally. Volunteering was a natural choice as it provided significance and flexibility. I lived within walking distance to the hospital and learned through friends that the hospital offered various volunteering options.

What do you enjoy about volunteering in general?

Volunteering is a way to give back to the community, it allows you to meet new people and perhaps learn something new. Volunteering can get you out of your comfort zone and give you a sense of purpose larger than yourself.

What do you enjoy about volunteering for the Auxiliary?

My goal in volunteering in the BSTU is a simple one: to brighten someone’s day.  If I can bring joy to a patient or smiles to a face, then my time was well spent.  And what usually happens is that my day is also brightened by spending time with them.  

How do you enjoy working with your team? 

The BSTU team is amazing. It can be a challenging area to work in (especially for the nurses and PSWs) as the patients have various levels of dementia and cognitive impairments. However, I find it is also very rewarding to watch them try and then succeed in different activities.

I work closely with the Recreational Therapist who provides valuable insights into effective ways of interacting with the individual’s personal interests and abilities. It could be through puzzles, word games, trivia, sorting items, music, stories, physical activities or simple conversation. I am thankful to be able to serve in this area and always feel valued as a volunteer there. 

If you were to share with someone why they should become a volunteer, what would you say?  

Even if you only have a couple hours a week to volunteer, it can make a big difference.  Find an organization that interests you and talk to them about how you might be able to help.  Hospitals have various types of volunteer positions - you may need to try a couple before you find a good fit. It will be a worthwhile investment of your time, for those you help and for yourself.

Do you live in the area?  

I now live in Prince Edward County, after living in Belleville for 8 years.

Do you have any hobbies? Do you like to travel?   

Along with my husband, I looked after 56 pets during 39 housesits, while visiting 11 countries over 8 years. I’m also a big fan of reading, nature, cooking, exploring the County, spending time with my family, and I’ve been learning Spanish. The most exciting news in my life lately is my first grandchild, born in March.

Any secret superpowers or hidden talents?   

I raised kids while working full-time and I think any mother who can do that is a superhero!

 

 

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