For more than a decade Debbie M. has offered her time and skills to volunteer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. “As a client of the hospital I want to give back some of the care that I receive,” she explains.
Over the years Debbie’s done just about every volunteer task you can think of, from working in the gift shop and helping out with special events, to stuffing envelopes for fundraising mail-outs and serving as a Volunteer Association Board Member-at-large.
A typical day in the gift shop for Debbie starts by verifying the float is accurate and stocking up on the confectionaries before beginning to serve customers. She currently volunteers twice a week and is quick to lend a hand with extra shifts when required.
In addition to knowing that she’s appreciated for the skills she can offer, Debbie says volunteering has boosted her self-esteem and allowed her to return a sense of dignity to individuals who need care and compassion.
One of Debbie’s most memorable experiences is helping to coordinate the Christmas vouchers that are given to clients through the social work fund each year.
She later heard of a client who, with the help of the $30 voucher, was able to give her daughter a holiday meal and a few extra treats, allowing her to demonstrate to Children’s Aid her sincere desire to provide a positive environment for her child.
The voucher, along with some clothes from the royal exchange, brought a joy to the woman’s heart that Debbie says she won’t soon forget.
“Volunteering at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre is a rewarding and challenging experience that can bring hope and dignity into a person’s life when they are in a place of despair,” says Debbie.
Whatever the reason that Debbie keeps coming back each year, we know both the staff and the clients are grateful for her presence.