National Volunteer Week 2019
April 7-13 is National Volunteer Week in Canada. It is a time to celebrate and thank the 12.1 million Canadians who volunteer their time and effort to improve life for the people around them.
Erane Bocking came to Canada from Greece nearly 60 years ago. In 1968, she began volunteering at what was then York Finch Hospital. More than 50 years later, she hasn’t looked back. York Finch, Humber Memorial and Northwestern hospitals amalgamated and became Humber River Hospital back in the late 1990’s, and in 2015 Humber opened its Wilson site. That is where Erane now spends eight hours a week helping in the Emergency Department, countless hours raising funds, and serving in various other capacities with the HRH Volunteer Association. If you ask her why she does it, her answer has several layers.
“First of all, I like people. And when you are helping them, you are helping yourself,” says Erane. “But it is also a chance to give back to this hospital, which has provided great care to me and my family, and also to give back to this country, which has welcomed me and given me such a great life.”
Christine Fisher is a Volunteer Services Specialist at Humber. She says of all the many ways that volunteers help the hospital, one of the most important is the link they help establish with the outside community.
“Our volunteers are a very diverse group,” says Christine. “So patients coming into the hospital see in the volunteers a reflection of the community they belong to, and this helps put them at ease.”
This past year, 1151 volunteers devoted 101,040 hours to the cause of helping Humber River Hospital. President and CEO Barb Collins says their contribution cannot be overstated.
“Volunteers play a critical role in the life of our hospital. They do so much, every day. Their most important contributions include greeting and welcoming and visiting with patients. Most of the time, volunteers are unsung heroes. That’s why during this one week a year, it is so important that we recognize all that they do, and thank them for it.”
As for Erane, she is retired now, but if you think she plans to stop volunteering, think again.
“Oh no, why would I? In fact, I would say to other retired people, if all you’re doing is sitting around watching TV, get off the sofa and volunteer. It’ll be good for you, and think how great it feels to help others.”