Every Tuesday, you'll find Jack hard at work. Accompanied by a Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) volunteer and wearing a special volunteer badge, the 10-year Minoru resident prepares thoughtful and uplifting messages to hand out to fellow residents, their families, and staff.
What started out as a way to encourage Jack to participate in recreational activities has now turned into community building—as he creates connections and spreads joy delivering positives saying and notes throughout the building.
“Volunteering was something that was very near and dear to Jack. He had been volunteering his whole life and so it was important for us to find a way for him to continue to give back to him community," says Alyss Bourgeau, senior recreation therapist at Minoru Residence. In fact, Jack's background highlighted a 15-year career working with the Salvation Army's holiday kettle campaign where he collected hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on behalf of the organization.
“We saw that Jack had a need to be more involved at Minoru and when I suggested that he become our resident volunteer he just lit up," recalls Alyss. Jack has been delivering his positive messages this November and since then, Alyss says his mood has improved dramatically, adding that he feels such a sense of pride being able to bring a smile to other peoples' faces.
But it's not just Jack's mood that has improved. The positive messages he reads to residents has truly had an impact on everyone.
“When Jack reads the message aloud to them and they realize they are the recipient of an act of kindness, they just brighten up, often telling him “you've made my day, this is so nice" with a big smile on their face," says Alyss. In some cases if there is a language barrier Jack will wish the person a nice day and give them a warm smile.
Jack's favourite quote? Friends are the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life. “I just want to make people happier," he says. “I want to give back."
Jack's passion is now catching on, too, notes Alyss. He's getting referrals from fellow residents who want to send positive notes when someone is feeling low or to welcome someone to the building. The messages also get posted around Minoru—on the walls, at the hair salon, and even on trollies.
“You can really see the impact it's having and it means so much to Jack."