Finding friendship and connection through volunteering
For Cyril (Cy) Hartland and Nathalie Ross, volunteering at St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a lifestyle. Between the two of them, they spend five—sometimes six—days a week at one of the organization’s facilities. Every day looks a bit different, with Cy and Nathalie filling various volunteer roles depending on the need, however something that remains consistent every week is the important role they both play in shipping and receiving for the organization’s gift shops.
St. Joseph’s has six different gift shops across multiple sites, which stock items from clothes and hygiene products, to snacks and gift items. These shops help ensure that patients, residents, families and staff have what they need to feel at home, and although day-to-day operations are managed and supported by Volunteer Services staff, over forty dedicated volunteers assist with shipping, receiving and manning the cash registers.
In the shipping and receiving role, volunteers receive stock, unbox the items and prepare them for delivery to the other gift shops across the organization. In her role, Nathalie has even started to help Volunteer Services staff make decisions around what items to stock – something that has helped to lower prices and even generate more men’s clothing options at the Mount Hope gift shop.
Both Cy and Nathalie started with St. Joseph’s after injuries or illness meant they couldn’t return to their jobs. Volunteering gave them a chance to fill their time in a meaningful way for both themselves and others.
“I find it very worthwhile,” says Cy. “I get to interact with people and brighten their days.”
And brighten days they do. It’s evident just how much both Cy and Nathalie love their time volunteering – and a positive attitude is what makes all the difference, according to Nathalie who believes you get out what you put in. “My philosophy is to greet you at the door…I want to tell you what’s on sale and show you where things are. I want you to enjoy your visit here.”
Tracy Drenth, Coordinator for Volunteer Services at St. Joseph’s, can’t stress enough the importance of volunteers like Cy and Nathalie. “They care so much about their roles as volunteers. They’re happy to be here, and it really shows.”
For Cy, volunteering also provides an opportunity to connect with others and create meaningful friendships. “This is virtually like another family for me,” adds Cy. “I work with a couple nice ladies.”
Nathalie, of course, being one of those ladies.
Even when Cy is on vacation, he’s texting Nathalie to keep in touch, sending messages like “Don’t do too much, don’t do any heavy lifting, I’ll be back and I’ll help.”
For the friendship, patient interaction and personal benefits, both Cy and Nathalie get great joy from their time volunteering at St. Joseph’s. Cy even says he wouldn’t trade it for the world. “I genuinely enjoy everything I do here, and I look forward to coming every day.”
“It’s good for your soul…it’s good for your mental health,” adds Nathalie.