Geoff Sing: Manager of Cridge Brain Injury Program
Volunteer Canada and Investors Group has designated April 12 – 18, 2015 as National Volunteer Week .The week is set aside to recognize the tremendous contribution of volunteers across the country. As we know, volunteers are a vital valuable source of support to all programs with The Cridge Centre for the Family. It should be noted that The Cridge Board of Directors are faithful volunteers. Through their dedication and commitment of providing hundreds of hours annually through various board duties and committees the governance of The Cridge is well maintained making The Cridge one of the best led Societies in Greater Victoria.
Within The Cridge Brain Injury Program, Macdonald House has been greatly enriched with volunteer support. Over the past decade, over 200 volunteers have registered at Macdonald House. These volunteers have contributed, over the past 10 years, 4000 plus hours support to our men and enhance their quality of life.
Some of the valuable lessons we have learned from our volunteer support:
- They come from all aspects of our community including, professionals, university and high school students; retirees. All volunteers have their own motivation for volunteering and with it they bring a committed energy to support the men of Macdonald House.
- There is no limit to the support that volunteers provide to our tenants. The complexity and breadth of support provided to the men of Macdonald House is endless and includes: attending special events in Greater Victoria, assisting with community based cooking, swimming or weight training programs, a myriad of opportunities – walks, playing cards, Wii or computer games, companion pets – at Macdonald House.
- Our volunteers are valued allies who have the potential to offer more than individual support to our tenants. Often volunteers have tapped into their personal networks to assist our tenants to access a service they needed or could not access. Here is another example of the potential to receive more from a volunteer: a volunteer from several years past, volunteered because it was a requirement for a course she was taking. However, her volunteer experience was so enjoyable that she maintained email and written contact with a tenant when she left BC to pursue a degree in nursing. When she returned to Victoria, she and her husband continued to visit this tenant on a social basis. This example is so valuable and heartening because this relationship is based on true friendship. Our tenants are developing social relationships not because the other party has to but wants to.
- There is the opportunity for lasting mutually valued relationships. For the past 12 years, the University of Victoria Men’s Rowing team has provided a one day garden clean-up at Macdonald House. As many as 20 rowers have come out on a Sunday in March to do various garden projects. This is a great benefit to Macdonald House as we are able to ready our garden for the upcoming growing season. For the rowers – many of them who are of the age of the stereotypical survivor of a brain injury- who have told us this is one of their highlight days of the year, we get the opportunity to educate them about brain and just as importantly, for them, brain injury prevention.
- It is our duty to provide both a volunteer opportunity as well as educating volunteers about brain injury. By teaching and training about brain injury volunteers are our future advocates for the brain injury community. We have had several volunteers pursue careers in the medical and social service field. Many have told us their positive experience here led them to work in their field specializing in brain injury.
We believe we offer volunteers a good experience to support survivors of a brain injury and a good opportunity to learn about brain injury. But as it has been listed above, it is quite apparent that we at Macdonald House are the ones who have benefited the most. Volunteers give of their time and skills so they may contribute to their community. They expect little else than a thank you, so to the many volunteers of past and present, THANK YOU for all you do.