We are all lucky to share our journey with people who add to our lives. They impart knowledge, provide a new way of looking at things, lead by example, and share what has made their own life so full. I have found this to be true of many volunteers I have come to know over the years. After seventeen years, I am fully aware what a gift this is to be in contact with hundreds of people I may never have met otherwise.
What they have shared will often be revisited. Easily remembering someone’s sense of humour and story telling abilities, those who faced adversity determinedly or met health issues head on with unimaginable grace. I will recall bright blue eyes, a zest for life, an eagerness to try new things, and so much more.
Volunteers on the other hand will reflect on client connections and what was shared with them. It may have been the briefest of conversations that struck a cord. A tale of the past that was received and stored away. A client’s life is often visible to all types of judgements, but those with kind hearts and an open mind look beyond the surface. They ignore clutter, surroundings, personal set backs, and instead appreciate that nobody’s life is free of personal struggles, a change of circumstance, or living arrangements.
As a helper today at our large Valentine’s Day Lunch Bunch, volunteers very clearly pointed out how much they love and appreciate giving back to people in their own community. It was an afternoon that was full of - well fullness. The parking lot was almost full when we arrived at the Four Seasons Restaurant. Three, white table clothed tables, were soon full off volunteers and the clients they drove. A small, designated section of the restaurant, was occupied by eight client walkers.
After meal orders arrived at these tables, clients’ bellies were soon full of food. So much so that nearly half of them clutched a container filled with left overs. As I walked around to introduce myself, a client put her hand on top of mine, nodded towards the volunteer who had brought two of them on the outing and said, “She’s a gem – our favourite transportation driver.” They were full of gratitude for this program.
One group consisting of volunteer John, with Ruby, Virginia and Margaret, were having a terrific time together. John switched meals with Virginia when she wished she’d ordered the omelet and he took her BLT. When the dessert tray came around the ladies were full and wished they had saved room for dessert. John said, “Let’s share one instead.” And that’s exactly what the four of them did.
Volunteers sat patiently while bills were settled, trips to the washrooms made, coats donned, walkers stored in the car and then everyone was ready to go. By the time I made it back to work, there were emails from volunteers declaring what a wonderful time they’d shared. I concur - Laura