Above photo: L-R: Rocio Andrews (manager of volunteer services) with Jenifer Bartlett and Ruth Chancey, Sharon Larson, Guli Madatali and Fatima Karmali.
The Lions Gate Hospital chemotherapy clinic is a busy out-patient centre that provides care to a vulnerable group of patients who are accompanied by their significant others. Helping comfort them is a group of 26 dedicated volunteers whose simple acts of kindness – finding a warm blanket, providing refreshments, offering a listening ear – lift the spirits and leave lasting impressions.
“Cancer can be scary stuff – anxieties flourish and tears can flow," says oncology social worker Iris Enkurs. “Our amazing group of volunteers let their compassion flow to put people first. Just their presence of being and their caring listening skills help to allay patients' fears and debilities. When the volunteers are unavailable to do their shifts, everyone – patients and staff alike – notices. Their work is an essential part of the functioning of our care team."
This year's People First Award of Excellence in volunteering honours the 26 volunteers at LGH's Paul Klimo Chemotherapy Clinic.
They are: Paul Avery, June Avis, Jenifer Bartlett, Ruth Chancey, Marg Elligott, Suzanne Forsyth, Pat Garland, Ruth Gilewich, Ellen Hall, Frankie Hester, Judy Low, Youhi Richmond, Teresa Shaw, Sheila Skeans, Gwenyth Smith, Fay Stewart, Jo-Anne Brown, Bev Franske, Roshan Gulamali, Nasrin Jaffer, Fatima Karmali, Sharon Larson, Guli Madatali, Heather Douglas, Ann Echols and Fatehali Janmohamed.
“Our volunteer team exemplifies the spirit of community service," says Iris. “They also serve as role models for others in the community, inspiring them to engage in volunteer service. Moreover, they have a positive impact on our patients and contribute to our delivery of the best care possible."
Sharon Larson, who has been volunteering for 40 years (22 in oncology) says her team was thrilled to hear the news they had been recognized with an Award of Excellence by VCH.
“What's neat about volunteering in oncology is you feel part of the team, you feel like you belong," says Sharon, who also volunteers at LGH's main info desk. “It's one of the best places to volunteer. I feel useful. Lots of people ask me if it's hard to work in the chemo clinic, but it's not. It's very positive and we get to do all the nice things like give out drinks and get warm blankets."
"The patients feel it is a home for them and when they come, regardless of their situation, they know they will be well taken care of and will have a quality of life. This makes our Chemotherapy Unit special and I'm proud to volunteer there," said volunteer Jenifer Bartlett.
[VIDEOS] People First Award Winners shine at ceremony