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Newsletter #142



Issue #142

A Celebration during Hard Times

They are everywhere among us – quietly, unobtrusively going about their business. Often they are almost invisible, unless we know who they are and what they are doing. They are the hundreds of volunteers who assist West Island non-profit organizations. They are the people who – through their dedication and hard work – make possible many of the crucial services these groups provide to West Island residents. This has become even more important during the current pandemic. Volunteer West Island’s (VWI) regular volunteers and new volunteers recruited by Andrea De Rome, Volunteer Coordinator for Individuals at VWI are out and about, making a vast difference in the community. Executive Director Lynda Barrett explains, “We’re serving and protecting seniors who are unable to cook for themselves or require assistance in obtaining groceries. The majority have been referred by municipalities, one of three CLSCs, community professionals, or are users of our Meals on Wheels program”. VWI would like to share stories about some of the volunteers helping these residents. The difficulty is, of course, choosing whom to profile among these amazing folk! We have selected a couple who illustrate the work of many. In the words of Shelley Hayden, Outreach Coordinator at Volunteer West Island: “Octavio (Paul) Rotaru, a Beaconsfield citizen, works from home, takes care of his family, and shops for isolated seniors after work. He’s always ready and willing to help out, no matter how long or short the grocery list is. He also shops multiple times a week and has made connections with our vulnerable senior clientele. He’s getting popular, seniors ask for him specifically! A star in this crisis!” As an academic and the Lead Solution Architect for a major telecommunication software company, Paul usually travels a great deal – as he says, “from Rome to Rio and everything in between – but due to the pandemic I’m stuck at home – and volunteering keeps me focused. I am trying my best to help the community in which I live – and do the little that I can to contribute. My sincere hope is that by volunteering during Covid-19, I can help protect vulnerable people and improve things for our community to win this together”. Hilary Jones has a long history of volunteer work. “I have volunteered since I was a kid. My parents both volunteered so it’s always been a part of my life. My family is in lockdown in the UK, my mother and my mother-in-law. Volunteers are grocery shopping for them so I’m paying it forward. It’s a global pandemic, and we need a global response on a local level. We’re all in this together.” “Hilary has been another star volunteer for me these past few weeks. She shops for groceries for seniors whenever and wherever they want. She stays and chats with them for quite a while too. People are lonely and she is the perfect antidote to this feeling, if only temporarily”, says Shelley. These are but two examples of the outstanding people who have come forward to help fill crucial needs for others and keep the West Island community functioning with a semblance for normalcy. As Paul Rotaru says, “We all need to stick together and help each other in these unprecedented times”.   June 2020   

A Great Online Gathering starts today – a reinvented campaign that is more relevant than ever

It’s that time of year again! Our annual campaign starts today in a context when support and generosity have never been more important. The past few months have been trying for everyone and even more so for vulnerable people. Greater Montreal’s challenges have changed, but we can face them together by showing our local love. More than ever, we need your support to maintain and even expand frontline community services to help people in difficulty. Needs are immense!

Centraide is therefore reinventing itself, starting with a very different campaign launch – A Great Online Gathering, the start of a vast collective endeavour – a huge photo mosaic that will come together on our website throughout the fall. Anyone can add a photo to show how much they care about Greater Montreal and how proud they are to belong to our unique community. These thousands of photos will create a great mosaic of solidarity. Together, we’ll make sure no one is left behind!


Make sure you are IN GOOD HEALTH before volunteering

1. Determine whether or not it is safe for you and those in your household for you to volunteer in person, based on public health information and advice of your own health professionals. If not, please explore virtual volunteer opportunities. 

2. Avoid people over the age of 70 or those who have severe chronic illnesses and are thus at greater risk from COVID-19. It is your choice to volunteer or not. On the other hand, if you experience symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should not go to community organizations or public places. If in doubt, discuss your volunteering with your doctor. 

3. If you are able and willing to take the risks associated with in-person volunteering, find out about the practices in place in the organization to keep you safe and minimize the risk as much as possible.

4. The COVID-19 pandemic has required changes to routines and practices to keep volunteers, clients, and staff safe and healthy during volunteering.

5. Practices and protocols to protect volunteers may vary based on the organization’s mission, clients, and geography. Check with the volunteer manager at the organization where you are volunteering and get their specific guidelines.

6. If you are feeling unwell (particularly if you have trouble breathing, fever or cough), self-isolate and please refrain from volunteering; stay home for at least 10 days or as otherwise advised by public health authorities. If you have you recently returned from outside Canada, follow the recommendations issued by provincial health authorities and self-isolate for 14 days.

IN PREPARATION for volunteering

A. As you arrive to volunteer, the necessary sanitary equipment should be visible (water and soap, alcohol-based sanitizers, paper towels and Kleenex). The organisation will offer the basic essentials for volunteers. 

B. Wash your hands regularly and often with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) before and during your volunteering, and after touching food, door handles, phones, lights etc. Don’t forget to disinfect these surfaces with the products that should be available to you.

C. As you arrive, and for every shift, and after you’ve washed your hands, please sign a registry to not only confirm your attendance, but also to read the most updated safety protocols and/or notices issued by the organisation.

D. Avoid touching your face and surfaces people touch often. Do not share equipment or work-stations.

E. Be sure to keep a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) between you and others. Avoid shaking hands or any other physical contact.

F. Masks are now mandatory. Follow directions for proper use of masks. Masks should be supplied to you by the organization. Personal masks are acceptable but must always be cleaned. Disposable masks are preferred and can be worn for up to 4 hours.

G. Visors are considered to be an additional means of protection but not necessarily mandatory. If you do come in contact with users of your services, please verify the measures in place by the organization.

H. All basic protective equipment that is recommended by health authorities should be provided to you by the organization.

I. Bring your own food and beverages and, in order to minimize possible contagion, do not share with others.

J. Be sure to have completed the training related to your actual position and that you are aware of all the safety protocols in place.

K. Please feel free to make recommendations if a useful idea occurs to you.

L. If at any point while volunteering, you feel distressed or need to talk, contact your supervisor immediately.

M. If you don’t feel well a few days after volunteering, please contact the public health authorities and communicate with the organization.

For more information,info@volunteerwestisland.org .

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EN TÉLÉPHONANT : 514-457-5445 POSTE 223    


Newsletter #141



Issue #141

ABOVAS Volunteer Louis Thouin   Louis Thouin is retired. He’s never been busier! He’s a volunteer with ABOVAS and also volunteers with Golden Rescue Canada to help people place or adopt golden Labs. What ABOVAS isABOVAS is a non-profit West Island community organization providing free medical transportation and accompaniment, thanks to volunteer drivers, most of whom are seniors. Louis Thouin is one such volunteer. “I love what I’m doing! Everyone is interesting – such great stories and experiences”.  “The keyword is s reassurance”, Louis says. “ABOVAS volunteers stay with patients, as well as accompany them to medical appointments. We don’t just drive, we ‘accompany’ – in every sense of the word – we provide support to clients through what, for some, can be an ordeal”. How it worksABOVAS means “Reassurance and safety – police checks of all volunteers; no worries about traffic, timing, cost, parking, finding the department you need to go to.  We pick up patients at home, accompany them for duration of the wait and appointment, and drive the client home after”, explains Louis. “We have maps of all the hospitals, are familiar with locations, departments, protocols and procedures. Hospital staff recognize us as ABOVAS volunteers – this can be reassuring to the patients, it helps reduce their stress”.                                         Why continue to volunteer?“I stay because I love it! It becomes personal because you get to know the patients – maybe you spend 2-4 hours together, often repeat trips with same people”. Louis often makes two trips a day to the Montreal and local hospitals. “This is meaningful involvement. I love to meet people and make them happy. It’s amazing, so rewarding – seniors are fun!” What Louis wants people to know about ABOVAS“It’s hard to ask for help, we’re so proud. It worries me that not everyone is aware of this service. More people need to know about ABOVAS, that help is available”.  ABOVAS provides competence, company, and consideration – this service lightens the load, reduces the stress around medical appointments. Research findings in social psychology repeatedly demonstrate that, given time and social support, people can cope with anything. ABOVAS provides these crucial elements for their clients, thanks to their outstanding volunteers!
Gail Giborski, Volunteer Receptionist at The Teapot 50+ Centre Gail has really made the reception position her own—she doesn’t just answer the phone and take messages, she truly represents The Teapot and everything we stand for: socialization, camaraderie, neighborliness, and assistance. What’s more, Gail genuinely cares about our members and their wellbeing: whenever there is a member we haven’t seen for some time, Gail will inquire about them and ask around to make sure they are doing well.  Gail on volunteering:“When I volunteer, it gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment. I help, but it makes me feel good. I’d be lost without this.” “I’ve met so many nice people; I’ve made so many caring friends.” “There are many Teapot members who are older than me, but they still come out. I realized that you can stay home and isolate yourself and feel bad for yourself, or you can go out and make yourself happy. So that’s what I do. It’s important to do something you enjoy.”                         

Volunteers make a difference!

  May 2020