MCH Volunteers Pay it Forward

Volunteers make a real difference in the lives of the children, families and staff at The Montreal Children's Hospital.
Every year, more than 470 volunteers actively contribute approximately 25,000 hours of their time to various programs throughout the hospital. Whether it’s helping to keep waiting rooms cheerful, spending one-on-one time with patients or helping out with clerical duties, our volunteers play an important role in supporting the staff and making The Children's a place where children and families feel looked after.
In honour of National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 10 to 16, 2011, we spoke to a small sampling of volunteers to find out more about their work and why they decided to give their time to The Children’s.
Janet: We found Janet on her first day as a volunteer at the MCH on 8D, the oncology ward of the hospital. She decided to become a volunteer because she enjoys getting to know new faces. Her pleasant and cheerful attitude put the patients at ease, and she took her time to get to know each and every one of them.
Martine: Martine has been a volunteer at the MCH for the past six months, and says she decided to get involved because like lots of other MCH volunteers, she loves children. With her winning smile, Martine puts patients at ease and keeps them busy with games or reading books. She can be found regularly on the wards, particularly in 6C1 and 6C2.
Marylen: We found Marylen in the 2B waiting area, setting up games as well as arts and crafts stations for children waiting to be seen in the outpatient clinics. This young student is fairly new to volunteering at The Children’s, having started in January. She first joined as a volunteer in the Emergency Department, and says she feels her experience will be very useful in the future. This young woman has big dreams of one day becoming a pediatrician.
Jodi: This former President of the Just For Kids Foundation has been helping out for 10 years and enjoys volunteering in different areas around the hospital. “I am trying to gain experience in a different department every year,” she explains. Jodi can be found helping her fellow volunteers in the 2B waiting area, helping patients select games and setting up activities while they wait to see their doctor.
Liz: It has been five years since Liz first joined the MCH as a volunteer, but this Montreal resident is no stranger to the hospital. As a former employee in the Public Relations and Communications Department, Liz knows the hospital very well, which makes her role as a greeter in the Emergency Department quite fitting.
Grace: Volunteering at the MCH is a family affair for Grace. After hearing her daughter’s great stories about spending time with young patients, she decided to become a volunteer herself. We caught up with Grace on her second day on the wards at The Children’s. As a mother and grandmother, she enjoys spending time with the hospital’s tiniest patients.
Mireille: This young volunteer used to study biology in university, and took a break to figure out what she wanted to do. “I wanted to see if I could work with kids, so I started volunteering here over a year ago,” she says. “I love it, especially working with babies!” In a few years, she may decide to pursue a more permanent role at The Children’s; her hope is to attend nursing school in the near future.
Hagop: A former school principal, Hagop has been enjoying retirement for the past year, while volunteering both at The Children’s and at another Montreal hospital with adult patients. He decided to become a volunteer in order to give back to the community and spend some time with patients who have been hospitalized.
Gaia, the dog: Gaia is no stranger to MCH patients. He visits the hospital every Wednesday as part of Child Life Services’ Pet Therapy Program, which offers patients a chance to interact with one of two dogs who have been certified by Zoothérapie Québec. The experience is very beneficial for patients, as it helps to counteract some of the stressful experiences often associated with hospitalization. Gaia clearly loves his job and has a great time soaking up all the attention!