Ask any one of the 200 board members why they volunteer to govern the 21 communities of service that make up today’s Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba (CHCM) and they will inevitably refer to the legacy of the Grey Nuns.
The culture of compassion that built a 500 million dollar organization with 1100 volunteers is noticeable the minute you walk into any one of their buildings. The focus of their 6600 employees is on caring for the individual and on providing a service that will alleviate hardship for all those in need.
Whether it be primary and community health services, acute or long-term care, services for people living with disabilities or housing and social services, CHCM volunteers play a crucial role in each of them. Six foundations, also led by volunteers, provide much needed additional resources to support on-going services.
Volunteer involvement ranges widely, from giving advice while attending monthly board or committee meetings, delivering newspapers to patients in one of Manitoba’s largest tertiary hospitals or helping out with sorting clothes for the needy.
“Each volunteer not only brings much needed support to our professional employees,” explained Micheline St-Hilaire, Organizational Change and Development Leader for CHCM. “They are also a ray of light and an inspiration to front-line workers who have demanding workloads.”
Wilfred George, volunteer at Saint-Boniface Hospital for the past 13 years, finds his own involvement with the institution extremely rewarding. After seeing the compassion and quality of care given to his wife while in palliative care, he felt compelled to give back and help out in any way he could.
“Since 2000, I’ve delivered flowers to patients, visited with patients battling cancer and have since joined the Spiritual Care volunteer team,” said George. “Listening to patients’ concerns and helping out wherever I can is truly fulfilling for me. I find that both the staff and the patients are highly appreciative of the volunteer presence in the hospital.”
David McElheran, a former patient at the I.H. Asper Clinical Research Institute, also decided to give back and become a volunteer as a Healing Hearts visitor after going through a double by-pass emergency surgery in November 2012.
He vividly recalls the month-long convalescence that followed.
“The quality of care at Saint B is world class and the compassion that comes naturally to the staff when dealing with patients is nothing short of amazing,” said McElheran. “That’s why I’m here every Friday to help out and talk to patients about what to expect. Of all the experiences I’ve had in my life, these weekly contacts with the patients is without a doubt the most rewarding and satisfying that I’ve known.”
In one single year, well over 50,000 volunteer hours are dedicated to helping CHCM provide a level of compassionate health care and social services that could not otherwise be achieved.
To find more information about the 21 communities of service or to offer your services as a volunteer, you can visit CMHC’s website at: http://www.chcm-ccsm.ca/.