April 28, 2017
When Betty Brooks began volunteering at University Hospital in 1973, she never expected that two years later it would turn into a paying role and a 25 year career in the volunteer office, first as secretary and then as coordinator.
“I’ve always volunteered and I wanted to continue volunteering when I moved to London. When a job opportunity presented itself I was thrilled to work with the 350 UH volunteers, including working with students and presenting the benefits of volunteering in high schools.”
As coordinator, Brooks encouraged volunteers to get to know one another and foster a sense of community. She also personally fostered a sense of global community when she and her family hosted the partner of a patient who had come to LHSC from Australia to undergo a procedure. “My son was travelling in Australia and the people were very kind to him. When an opportunity came for me to return that kindness I was happy to do it,” she says. “We took him sightseeing and made sure he was comfortable while his partner was in hospital.” Brooks would later visit the former patient in Australia.
Her generosity of spirit has continued into retirement when she returned to her beginnings as an LHSC volunteer and is now receiving her 15 year Long Service Award. She can be seen assisting others at the information desk at University Hospital. “I like to help patients and I wanted to continue volunteering after retirement. It is my life,” she adds.
Brooks has noticed that advances in medicine have shortened hospital stays, but that many patients return for follow-up visits and recognize her as well as the other volunteers. “Now, for many patients and visitors, the hospital is a new environment and we can guide them and with some kindness we can alleviate some of their stress. They know we are here to help.”
“I truly believe that volunteers provide community in the hospital and we are able to use our time to take that extra step for others,” emphasizes Brooks. “Volunteering is an enriching and rewarding experience. We truly make a difference to those who we help.”