Silvia is an English as a second language instructor and an artist. She has volunteered for many years as an art instructor for children in neighbouring schools. Earlier this year, she reached out to West Neighbourhood House to see how she could share her skills. Originally inquiring about a role as an English Conversation Circle tutor, she learned about the Seniors Art Studio. Recognizing an opportunity to share her unique experience as an artist and language instructor to a group of mainly Portuguese speaking seniors, she proposed the idea of felting ornaments.
“I always think about projects in which the participants can use their own skills. The Art Studio’s participants have no inhibition. They are open to creating new projects, and willing to learn new techniques. They really like to have their skills challenged.” Silvia
The Seniors Arts Studio is an initiative of the Seniors Community Development program. The seniors worked hard this year – knitting and weaving beautiful items to sell at the Annual Seniors Bazaar and Bake Sale in November. This important fundraising event, led by the Seniors Members’ Council, supports seniors programming at West NH throughout the year. Thanks to Silvia’s artistic skill in fibre arts and a donation of materials, the group added wonderful felted decorations to their sale this season.
“The Art Studio’s objective is to promote mental health. The seniors learn new activities, feel more confident and independent. They are not isolated anymore.” Sabrina Santos, Seniors Program Worker
Most importantly, Silvia and the senior participants have had an opportunity to share stories, skills and laughs while their hands work fast, transforming the colourful materials into beautiful ornaments. We look forward to seeing what they’ll create next!
Thank you Silvia for sharing your gifts with the community!
The Meals on Wheels Program is getting tuned up up for deliveries by bicycle! We had a chat with long-time volunteer Jonathan Meyer about his experience in the Meals on 2 Wheels.
When did you first get involved with the program? In 2009.
What motivated you to volunteer with Meals on 2 Wheels? I live close by. I was also interested in volunteering for something involving food. When I was looking into different opportunities in the community, Meals on Wheels was an easy fit.
What do you enjoy about it? To send out individuals on cycling routes really helps the program. Plus, there is the exercise component!
You are probably involved in training new volunteers. Can you walk us through the training required for this role? New volunteers usually go out with a cyclist about two to three times during training. In the first time, they follow behind the trailer (on their own bike) to learn traffic laws. Obeying traffic rules is important, especially because you are representing the program. During my own training, I was stressed about the importance to protect the clients’ information. So I stress that to new volunteers. On the second shift, the new volunteer drives the trailer and the experienced volunteer follows behind. Usually that’s enough time to get all the details related to the role.
What could you not have anticipated before starting? The relationship with other volunteers. Getting to know them and making new friends was a great surprise. I thought I would just be helping clients. You don’t realize that they are helping you too. I’ve gone out with so many great drivers (as a runner during the colder months).
Any tips for new volunteers? If you want to volunteer, you have to really want to. It’s not that easy – you have to find the program that works for you, meet the people, etc. It takes some time. You got to be patient.
What keeps you motivated year after year? Angie Alves, the Meals on Wheels Coordinator. She is great to work with. She’s a very warm person and always makes you laugh. All the people that work here, the volunteers and the clients are great. It’s a nice community outside of my daily routine. I get to meet people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. It’s inspiring to connect with clients and see them dealing with struggles with such positivity. It’s a weekly reminder of how fortunate I am.
Would you like to volunteer with the Meals on 2 Wheels Program? Do you know an avid cyclist? Please get in touch with the Volunteer Program at email@example.com to find out more!