April 22, 2013
April 21 – 27 is National Volunteer week, and London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is recognizing the care and dedication of all our volunteers. The story of Don and Sandra Allaire is just one example of how committed our volunteers are, and how fulfilling volunteering at a hospital can be.
Don and Sandra have been married for 53 years, and have been volunteering for most of their married life. They began their volunteer careers at a church in Timmins, Ontario, where Don, a retired electrician, offered his handy skills, and Sandra spent time baking, helping with fundraisers, social teas, and funerals. Sandra also volunteered at a local hospital where she would fix hairdos for the female patients, play cards, and write letters with them.
Wanting to be closer to their children, Don and Sandra moved to London in 2001. New to the city, they were eager to make friends, so they quickly got involved and offered the care and skills to our community they brought with them from Timmins. On April 18, Don and Sandra received recognition for 10 years of service at LHSC’s annual Volunteer Lunch. Sandra shares that at other organizations they often have to volunteer separately, but adds that being guides at LHSC is exceptional, “because it is something we can do together - we each have our own area, but can call on each other for assistance, and we enjoy coffee with friends after our shifts.”
Going to a hospital can be stressful for patients as well as visitors. “Having someone help you find your way around is much appreciated. If you’re a people person and feel that you can make a difference, then volunteering at a hospital is something to consider,” says Sandra.
Sandra is fortunate that her previous employer, Scotiabank, has a program whereby volunteers who contribute at least 50 hours a year can receive up to $1,000 for a specific need at their organization. In the past, she has used these funds to donate sleeper chairs for parents of sick children to be able to spend the night at their bedside, and personal care items for women in need through the Women’s Patient Assistance Fund.
Volunteers at LHSC have been enhancing patient care since 1924. There are currently over 900 volunteers servicing 90 programs across Victoria Hospital, University Hospital, and the London Regional Cancer Program. Roles are filled by a wide range of dedicated people, from high school students to retirees, who provide services including, information desks, delivering e-cards and flowers, escorting patients and families to appointments, supporting patient care areas, and operating gift shops. “We are very grateful to our volunteers. Their daily presence provides an invaluable service to our patients, families, and visitors,” says Cindy Collins, Manager of Volunteer Services at LHSC.
Don and Sandra Allaire, Volunteer Guides at LHSC