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Winter Volunteer Newsletter

Winter Volunteer Newsletter

Thank you for a wonderful year!

2019 has been a tumultuous year in many ways, with challenges and uncertainties both here in our community and throughout the world. That’s why now more than ever, it matters so much that we continue to care for and support one another. We are truly grateful for your efforts to share your valuable time, energy and skills with your community.

Below are a few stories that reflect the generosity volunteers have brought to the House recently.

Thank you for being an integral part of West Neighbourhood House. We wish you a happy, healthy and connected New Year!

Thinking of you: Holiday cards for isolated seniors

A card-writing party was a fun way to spend a fall day — and a great way to let seniors in the neighbourhood know we’re thinking of them.

Earlier this fall, local artist and designer Heather Scott of Heather Scott Designs reached out to us with a thoughtful idea: Could she design and write holiday cards for participants of the Meals on Wheels and Friendly Visiting Programs, so that no one living in isolation would be forgotten over the holidays?

With the help of printer Steve Frattaroli, of Flash Reproductions, about 350 cards were donated to make the project possible.

With so many cards to write, Heather planned a card-writing party with friends. They hand-wrote all the cards to Meals on Wheels recipients. Another two writing parties were planned at West Active Living and Learning Centre (WALLC) by members, who wrote thoughtful messages to their fellow participants who can no longer come to the centre.

“Each year we like to do something special for participants, but it’s very meaningful to have it come directly from caring community members and fellow seniors,” a Seniors Community Development staff member said.

These personalized cards were delivered to share a little warmth and holiday spirit this season. Thank you to Heather and Steve for your generosity. We’re very fortunate to have neighbours like you!

Room to grow

In the volunteer program, we meet interesting, diverse and highly skilled people every day. It’s always a pleasure to see volunteers with so much to offer grow and share their talents in new ways.

We’d like you to meet Charlene.

Charlene (centre, in the black vest), joined WALLC as a volunteer after retiring from her career as a personal support worker.

After retiring from a long career as a Personal Support Worker, Charlene came to West Neighbourhood House to volunteer her time as a Friendly Visitor to isolated older adults in the community.

“I thought that it was a position very related to what I did before in life, which made me feel comfortable to take this responsibility,” Charlene says. After a lifetime of building skills and expertise working with older adults, it was a natural fit for Charlene to get involved in new ways. Coming into the West Active Living and Learning Centre (WALLC) to meet with her coordinator, Sabrina exposed her to a host of new activities and programs geared towards engaging independent adults rather than in-home visiting.

Charlene has branched out significantly from her original interest in sharing her professional skills. Since March 2018, she’s been an English as a Second Language tutor, facilitated group cooking classes as a part of the Participatory Democracy project, and recently started a workshop series on Canadian History  for members of the Portuguese Women 55+ group, as a part of a multicultural project called Taste of Cultures.

“Some friends asked me why I am dedicating so much time working if I am already retired … it is because I am having so much fun doing this!” Charlene exclaimed.

“I would like to continue teaching and sharing my knowledge as a volunteer tutor. The volunteer experience inspired me to learn more about new things attending the Toronto Library lecture series,” Charlene says. Volunteering with WALLC has given Charlene new opportunities to contribute her talents and grow in many new ways. We’re grateful to her!