Resident volunteer helps gift shop get back in business

When staff at St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital needed a volunteer for their gift shop, Stop ‘N’ Shop, they turned to resident John Srala.

St. Joseph’s staff know that John is well suited for the volunteer role: he has extensive experience in retail, including using a cash register, selling cars and even managing a pool hall. He is friendly, dependable and personable—a perfect fit.

“It gives me something to do for three days a week, and I really like checking the stock, letting staff know what we need to buy and what sells well,” says John. “People buy everything from snacks to supplies, and I have a retail background, so I have knowledge in what to buy and what not to buy.”

The shop, which sells snacks, greeting cards, stamps and essentials, was closed for two years, but residents and families wanted it reopened. St. Joseph’s responded and launched a campaign to reopen it in 2014.

That’s when the staff approached John. 

John has been a resident at St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital on Butterfly Meadows since Dec. 15, 2009. He says volunteering in the gift shop is giving him a real sense of self-worth and purpose. 

John’s desire to volunteer his time to work and interact with residents and visitors is exactly the behaviour MacEwan University professor Dr. Irene Coulson and four colleagues (Dr. Lori Harper, Dr. Sharon Bratt, Shirley Galenza and Dr. Mary Haase) discovered in a study on seniors’ happiness in Covenant Health continuing care facilities.

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