Volunteers make a lasting impact and we want to recognize and thank the many volunteers at BC Children’s Hospital for their awe-inspiring acts of kindness.
While some volunteer activities and the number of volunteers on-site had to be reduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, over 300 volunteers supported both BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre. These volunteers found ways to safely provide support while following COVID-19 guidelines so that they could continue to contribute to our many volunteer programs, including: two off-campus thrift stores, two gift shops, helping patients and families navigate their way through our large campus, dog therapy, holiday programs, research and our family support and resource centres.
Even with the pandemic having to close our thrift shops for two months, volunteer contributions by hours increased in 2020. The BC Children’s Patient Experience team
worked magic this past year, shifting to virtual support where they could and adding new volunteer programs for the new Sunny Hill Health Centre at BC Children’s Hospital.
The Value of One, The Power of Many, is the 2021 theme for National Volunteer Week. We are lucky to work with more volunteers than we can individually celebrate and are grateful for everything they do. Here are a few volunteer spotlights:
“As I walked into my first patient room as a volunteer, the patient's dad and sibling were just about to leave. The sibling was emotional and resistant to leave the patient room. I politely said hello and made a quick connection with the patient's sibling. I assisted with helping the sibling leave the room with a distracted play of colour “I Spy” on the painted wall outside of the room. This small interaction was so meaningful for me as a volunteer to know that my interactions with a family were meaningful and helpful. Being a child life hospital volunteer helps families by spending time or playing with children on some of their hardest and toughest days and seeing them reach their goals and milestones.” - Jacey S., Current Child Life Volunteer
“I was doing a shift at the gift shop and a mother and child came in to look around and mom promised to buy something after the appointment. She said: ‘We will be back.’ Another gentleman at the cashier had overheard the child wanted a sticker collection. The gentleman said to me: ‘I would like to buy that for them.’ So he did. Sure enough, mother and child were back and bought a couple of items and found out someone had “paid in forward”, buying the sticker collection; she was delighted.” - Tish O., Current Auxiliary to BC Children’s Hospital Gift Shop Volunteer
“I was asked to spend some time with a teenager while their parents were in a meeting. When I came into the room, this teen was quiet but indicated that I could stay and hangout, and we played some video games together. After a while, we switched to playing UNO and as anyone who has played UNO before can attest to, it got very heated and by the end we were both chatting and laughing. Their parents came back from their meeting, and we then ended the game and I said my goodbyes. After leaving their room, their mother caught up to me and let me know that this patient had selective mutism and had not said a word out loud since coming to the hospital. She said that the fact that they had talked and chatted with me meant that I had made them very comfortable and safe, and thanked me so much. This experience has stuck by me, as it really shows the magic of play and the impact that volunteering can have. While I thought I was just playing cards with a shy teenager, it was actually a lot more than that.” - Becki S., Former Child Life Volunteer and Current Child Life Specialist at Sunny Hill
“When the children and families come in to get assessed they are nervous for the appointment and have a long day of testing to go through. The volunteers provide playtime and support to these families and help to make the day run smoother for them. At Sunny Hill, we are incredibly grateful for the team of volunteers we have. Doctors and clinicians repeatedly report that the volunteers are creating a wonderful environment for the children and that the tests would not work without them.” – Claire Brown, Sunny Hill Child Life Specialist
“I just want to say how much we appreciate our volunteers taking time from their studies, jobs and normally social lives to spend time helping us guide people to appointments. Entrance screeners would be high and dry without you!” – Louise, Site Screener**Staff at hospital entrances who screen patients, families and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms and provide medical masks