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Volunteers are the heart of Niagara Health

Posted Apr 8th, 2019

Volunteers are the heart of Niagara Health

This National Volunteer Week, Barbara Abramek takes the time to look back on 50 years of volunteering as a member of Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Auxiliary.

“We have a new hospital now and that’s what we were working towards when I started,” Abramek said. “I was constantly in some kind of fundraising activity at the hospital and it grew from there. It’s something that I look at with pride that I had one little small portion to do with that.”

The St. Catharines Auxiliary presented Niagara Health Foundation with $150,000 in March, to complete their pledge of $500,000 in support of Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site, within five years. What’s more, they fulfilled their pledge in three years, instead of five.

She came to volunteering as a new mother, encouraged to find a way to get out of the house and find a way to contribute to her community. Her role has changed over the years – Abramek has worked in the Auxiliary’s coffee shop, arranging and selling flowers, and the gift shop – but the inspiration to keep up has remained the same: people.

“It’s my fellow volunteers, it’s the people I meet – you really do learn something every time you go in. There’s always something that comes up that makes your day,” said Abramek. “As long as we can, we just keep going and we enjoy each other’s company, and we love to interact with the people.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Lucie Vaillancourt, who volunteers in meal assistance at the Greater Niagara General Site.

“I like it. My heart goes out to those who are sick. I talk to them and make sure they’re comfortable,” she said. “I go from room to room and I try to provide a little extra.”

Vaillancourt has been taking care of people much of her life, first with her mother and grandmother in her youth. Today, she says she gets a great sense of satisfaction by doing what she can to help patients.

“We all need each other,” said Vaillancourt. “When I’m in need, I just want God to send me someone to help me. If you think about it, we’re all just a big family.”

Abramek and Vaillancourt are just two of the more than 850 passionate and caring volunteers who provide extraordinary caring every day, across all five sites. 

National Volunteer Week

Niagara Health volunteers are an integral part of our hospitals, devoting their time to deliver extraordinary patient-centred care in a number of departments including: Cardiac Rehab, Critical Care, Emergency Department, Medical Imaging, Mental Health, Outpatient Clinics, Palliative Care, Surgical Services, the Walker Family Cancer Centre and Women and Babies.

“Volunteers make an impact, right from the moment you walk into the hospital,” said Volunteer Resource Coordinator Andrea McCollum. “By welcoming the community and offering that helping hand, they do hundreds of little things to improve the experience of our patients and visitors.”

Niagara Health’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner will be held on Thursday April 11 at Club Roma, 125 Vansickle Rd., St. Catharines at 5:30 p.m. Barbara Abramek will be honoured for her 50 years of volunteering with Niagara Health.

To learn more about how you can join our extraordinary team of volunteers with Niagara Health, please visit our Volunteer Resources page.



Niagara Health System