Volunteering where you live

When you think of volunteers, the image that comes to your mind probably isn’t someone who lives in a continuing care centre. No matter where some people live, they like to be involved. 

“Volunteering is an opportunity for residents to participate and share their knowledge. It can help provide a sense of purpose that can be lacking in their lives,” says Cecilia Marion, Senior Director, Operations, St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital and Youville Home.

Ron McHarg

Meet four residents who are helping make their homes better for all. 

Ron McHarg

Ron McHarg has lived at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre since 2010. He didn’t want to share his exact age, but let us know he’s in his 80s.

“I help with the setting up and cleaning up of each meal,” says Ron. “There’s the odd meal where I’m late or have to leave early, but usually I help.”

Ron also helps make sure the day’s menu is posted for all residents to see and keeps the coffee creamers fresh and filled. After meals, he returns juice and milk cartons to the fridge.

“I feel like I’m doing something useful with my time, otherwise I’d just be sitting there watching others do the work,” explains Ron. “I like to think I save the taxpayers some money by reducing waste at meal time.” 

Shawn McCrieght, chair of the Residents’ Council (right) and Calvin Younghans, vice-chair

Shawn McCrieght and Calvin Younghans

Shawn McCrieght wants his fellow residents to know that they can make a difference through volunteering.

Shawn, who’s lived at the Edmonton General for six years, volunteers as chair of its resident council. The council provides residents with an opportunity to come together to make decisions and call for change that reflects the majority of their peers, such as starting morning messages over the intercom to share information..

Shawn and his vice-chair colleague, Calvin Younghans, believe their work makes a difference. When questions or concerns are raised that affect a majority of the residents, they find answers and share what they learn with their fellow residents.

“My goal is to empower people who live here to believe that they can bring up ideas and make decisions for themselves; they have a voice,” says Shawn, 57.

Calvin encourages his fellow residents to see how they can contribute. “Just give it a try. There’s no shame in walking away if it doesn’t work out, but at least you tried.”

John Srala

John Srala

John Srala volunteers three days a week running the gift shop at St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital, his home for more than seven years.

“I run the store here and keep track of stock and cash out, that sort of thing,” says John, 68. “I like selling stuff and talking to the people.”

Cara Stark, an administrative assistant, helps John by purchasing supplies for the gift shop. John uses a stock list to keep track of his inventory.

 "We don’t have funds to run the gift shop and without John, it wouldn’t be possible to keep it open,” says Susan Nicoll, Program Manager at St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital. 

John doesn’t just keep the store open; he also provides room delivery service to residents who have difficulty making their way to the gift shop. 

“He’s our most active resident volunteer for sure,” says Susan. "We really appreciate all of his volunteer work."

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