Helping shape The Royal's future through selfless acts | Christine's Story

Christine sitting at front desk in the Hub

Christine's superpower is showing up.

Librarians have an extraordinary way of connecting people to the precise resources they need, whether they are completing their PhD, looking for their next novel, or browsing the internet. 

In her career as a university librarian, Christine Taylor enjoyed the satisfaction of turning uncertainties into discoveries and questions into answers. Now retired, she uses her librarian skills at The Royal's Client and Family Resource Hub, where she volunteers as a concierge, greeting people and connecting them to resources, tools, and information. 

Christine, like many of the concierges at The Royal, has a deep personal connection to mental and substance use health. 

Shadowed by stigma, her adult son kept his substance use story quiet. He let his parents know that he was struggling and receiving treatment, but beyond that, he kept to himself.  

As a natural learner, Christine stayed up to date on resources. She participated in family support groups at The Royal while respecting her son's wishes to remain private about his recovery. For years, she and her husband kept his secret but remained equipped to help their son in whatever ways they could. 

Tragically, her worst nightmare became true. Her son lost his battle with substance use when he died from an unintentional overdose in 2022. 

Helping others through selfless acts

In rare conversations with her son, Christine tried everything she could. "I would tell him that resources were always changing, and The Royal was always changing. You never know; the next time, there might be something that will work for you."

Christine still stands by that message. Determined to give back to The Royal and help patients and families navigate the same system as she and her son did, she contacted volunteer services at The Royal. 

The Royal was looking for volunteers to offer peer support and guidance at a soon-to-open Client & Family Resource Hub, centrally located by the entrance of the main building on Carling Avenue. 

One thing that drew Christine to The Hub was how accessible it was to everyone. Featuring in-person and virtual offerings, The Hub provides valuable tools and resources to patients and families living in Ottawa or beyond. 

Before The Hub officially opened, Christine remembers a couple who came in from the community looking for advice for their adult son who had stopped taking his medication. The Hub hadn't even officially opened its doors and was already proving its value.  

Christine showing individual something on computer

"For some families, no matter how much they want to be involved in their loved one's recovery, there are barriers. In honouring my son’s memory, I help other clients and families, and hope to make their path a bit smoother."

Clients and families are shaping The Royal's future 

The idea for The Hub came from the Client Advisory Council as they looked to increase peer support services at The Royal. Generous donors made their vision a reality. It was an incredible example of generosity and commitment, making a meaningful difference for clients and their families, which continues to this day. 

Kevin Patrick was part of the team that developed The Hub and is now a peer support supervisor. "Every interaction is unique. There are so many ways we can assist people, whether it is providing resources, helping them access their email, or simply having a conversation. Sometimes, it's just about being there and supporting them where they’re at in a safe, non-judgemental and caring way," shares Patrick. 

Christine started volunteering at The Hub and also joined the Family Advisory Council, which, similar to the Client Advisory Council, guides and advises so much of The Royal's operations. "Research shows that when family is involved, the outcomes are better," she says. 

On the Family Advisory Council, Christine can participate and advocate for those who cannot by speaking on behalf of families who are supporting their loved ones. 

One of her first roles on the Family Advisory Council was joining the Nursing Research Incubator as a family advisor. She recalls that she did not know how to be helpful at first, but she knew the importance of showing up. Maybe she could provide one tiny piece of wisdom if she showed up. And if one day, she felt there was nothing to offer, she would still show up again. 

"I have been very impressed and very honoured with the level of inclusion I have experienced as a family advisor in research. Every question I have asked, and every suggestion I have offered has been welcomed into the discussion. I feel my voice is listened to and represented in the work that we are doing."

In challenging moments, unsure of her ability to make a difference, Christine knows one thing for sure: showing up matters, so she does just that.