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‘I feel good about the difference we make’: NH volunteer

Posted Apr 19th, 2024

We are Niagara Health is a series of stories that celebrates the incredible people working and volunteering in our organization and how they make a difference in the lives of patients and coworkers every day.

Moira Beedling, Mary Frisano and Joanne Brown are volunteers at the St. Catharines Site Welcome Desk

From left: Moira Beedling, Mary Frisani and Joanne Brown volunteer at the St. Catharines Hospital Welcome Desk. The are among more than 550 volunteers who donate their time to Niagara Health. 

Conversation happens easily between Joanne Brown, Mary Frisani and Moira Beedling.

While Brown and Frisani have known each other 10 years, Beedling is six months new to the group. Still, there’s a good-natured camaraderie that exists when they are together, and it extends to others when the trio of volunteers take their posts at the St. Catharines Hospital Welcome Desk every Thursday afternoon.

Sometimes it’s as simple as greeting passersby. Other times, it’s helping people find where they need to be or giving visitors a hand at the pay parking machines.

All the time, though, it’s being a friendly face to everyone who comes into the hospital.

“Most people, when they come into the hospital, it’s probably not for the best reason and you want to make that process better,” Beedling says.

Brown, Frisani and Beedling are three of more than 550 volunteers who support extraordinary experiences for patients and their loved ones across all Niagara Health sites. That goes beyond assisting patients and visitors with immediate needs to donating time to build better healthcare for the future. Niagara Health’s Auxiliary volunteers have raised $470,000 to purchase hospital equipment, which contributes to the high-quality care provided by physicians and care teams.

Niagara Health is celebrating their contributions this week during National Volunteer Week.

“I just wanted to help people and connect with the community. I enjoy it. You feel like you made a difference.”

“Niagara Health can’t thank our volunteers enough. Most often the volunteers are modest about the contributions they make, but the truth is they are invaluable members of our team,” says Amanda Basilone, Manager of Recruitment and Volunteer Resources. “Our extraordinary volunteers put smiles on the faces of our patients and visitors through mealtime visits, wayfinding and by providing positive experiences for everyone they encounter. It takes a genuine commitment to caring, and that is exactly what our volunteers do each and every day.”

Volunteering at the hospital was an easy sell for Brown, Frisani and Beedling. All three are retired and when they wound down their careers, they were keen to contribute to their communities and enjoy the social aspect that came with it.

Brown is a former Niagara Health Emergency Department charge nurse and is often recognized in her latest role by people she once cared for. She was content to trade nurse scrubs for a volunteer smock when the St. Catharines Hospital opened in 2013 and provide a different kind of care completely.

Frisani was compelled to volunteer after spending lots of time in hospitals with her husband before he passed away.

“It was one of those things I wanted to do after he was gone to give back, and I’m a people person,” Frisani says. “I like working with the public.”

Beedling, who worked for the City of St. Catharines previously, always had an interest in healthcare, which piqued after her son, Liam, became a general surgeon at Niagara Health.

“I just wanted to help people and connect with the community,” Beedling says. “I enjoy it. You feel like you made a difference.”

And they do. They are reminded of their impact every Thursday afternoon at the Welcome Desk.

“We get so many thank-yous,” Frisani says. “I feel good about the difference we make.”

Learn more about volunteering at Niagara Health

Niagara Health System