During National Volunteer Week – April 18 to 24 – we are sending a special thank you to our dedicated team of volunteers.
Although they are currently not able provide in-person support due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Niagara Health volunteers continue to find new and invaluable ways to share their skills, abilities, experience and talent.
In February, an idea to provide patients with adult clothing protectors was quickly embraced by a group of eager volunteers.
Fashioned from old dress shirts to be worn overtop of clothing to prevent spills during mealtime, these protectors would help support a sense of dignity and autonomy.
One of the first volunteers to get involved, Joanne Schiebel, has been volunteering at Niagara Health since 2013 and has logged more than 1,100 hours at the St. Catharines Site Welcome Desk.
“Volunteering at home during the pandemic by sewing adult clothing protectors, I see firsthand the difference we can make,” said Joanne. “Sewing from home during the pandemic is healing for me and it also helps the staff and patients. It feels good knowing that we helped someone in some small way.”
Another longtime Niagara Health volunteer, retired Registered Nurse Rita DeMoel, also saw this as an opportunity to put her energy into something positive.
“During the pandemic, I have missed the hospital volunteering experience. It is so helpful to have another outlet at this time to give the mind a rest from the big problem,” said Rita. “The volunteer home project kept me focused on something useful, reducing the COVID worry.”
So far, more than 45 adult clothing protectors have been completed, with many of the volunteers involved having sourced their own shirts or materials for the project.
Arvith Jhirad, co-founder of Wishlist Niagara, an organization that mobilizes contributions to community organizations and charities, has also been instrumental in collecting dress shirts to support the volunteer-driven project.
“This thoughtful idea resonated with several people we contacted,” said Jhirad. “Through Wishlist Niagara, we are able to engage in directing generous contributions to where they are most useful.”
More than 150 volunteers have supported Niagara Health this past year by returning in-person, when we were able to welcome back a limited number of roles from August – December 2020, or through virtual initiatives.
Volunteers play an integral role at Niagara Health 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’s and Babies.
In addition, our Intensive Care Unit research team has received virtual support from a group of research students who have contributed 2,110 hours from September to April.
We recognize our volunteers and their contributions to Niagara Health, and look forward to welcoming them back when the time is right.
If you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved with the Adult Clothing Protector project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.