By Amanda Paul, volunteer correspondent
Isabella and Sabrina Mountyvong are two volunteers who believe in the importance of building a friendly community within GRH.
Both sisters have an interest in pursuing a career within the medical field and bring their interest and excitement with them to the cancer centre. Isabella has been volunteering since the summer of 2016 and Sabrina has been volunteering with GRH for four years.
Isabella and Sabrina are two volunteers that look forward to helping brighten the days of patients at? GRH.
What convinced you to volunteer?
Isabella: At first, I wanted to volunteer because my friends were volunteering as well. Also, I want to pursue a career in the medical field when I’m older. I decided to volunteer in the cancer centre because I thought it was an interesting environment for me to learn about the hospital and how it works.
Sabrina: My mom loves volunteering and believes in giving back to the community so I think that’s what made me want to start volunteering. I feel like I followed her footsteps in that regard. I started as a HELP (hospital elder life program) volunteer at Freeport when I was 16 years old. It was easy for me to volunteer at Freeport because we lived closer to that campus. When we moved to Waterloo, the KW campus was closer to our new home. I started volunteering at the front desk and in the cancer centre.
What have you learned from volunteering?
Isabella: I feel that volunteering teaches you to have more of an open mind. I see the different lives that each patient lives and it teaches me to be more appreciative of what I have. It makes me grateful for the life I am living. Volunteering has also given me a new perspective on the world and I’ve learned that it feels good to help others.
What has been the most rewarding thing about volunteering?
Isabella: When I volunteer I make a lot of new friends. Not just with the patients but with other volunteers. For instance, this past summer I became friends with another volunteer who isn’t the same age as I am. This friendship was something new for me because I usually become friends with people my age or my sister’s age. My volunteer friend was always looking forward to seeing me and I always looked forward to seeing him. Every time I saw him I was excited to tell him about my week and hear about his. It’s very fun meeting new people.
Sabrina: The most rewarding thing about volunteering is seeing a patient smile. When I volunteered in the HELP program, a big part of the position is socializing with patients and keeping them company. I love talking to them and listening to their stories. Going the extra mile to make someone smile brightens my day. I feel good knowing that my time and presence made them feel good.
What’s the one thing that is unique about volunteering in the cancer centre?
Isabella: The atmosphere in the cancer centre is very caring. Everyone that works there is so kind and peaceful. I find that the environment is important for patients when they’re coming in so they feel at ease before their appointments. Everyone involved in the cancer centre ensures that the patients are well cared for.
Sabrina: One thing that I love about volunteering in the cancer centre is the connections that can be made with patients. One day I can have a conversation with a patient and I may see them two weeks later and continue that same conversation. Seeing familiar faces and creating a personal connection with a patient is very important. Sometimes there are patients who come in and ask me if I’m going to be in the following week and if I am, they would schedule their appointments for the same time as my shift. It’s a good feeling when I interact with patients on such a personal level.
What is one thing you would suggest to other volunteers?
Isabella: I would suggest to always smile and be happy. It’s important to understand that you’re a really big part of someone’s day. You never know what someone is going through that day. You can play a part in making their day a bit brighter. Also, being friendly to other volunteers is important. Don’t be shy because it helps make the atmosphere while volunteering much friendlier. Making connections with everyone contributes to a friendly community within the hospital.
Sabrina: If you have an idea that may seem a bit over-the-top, you should still do it. There are many occasions where I would feel shy to do something for a patient but I know that it would make their day. I convince myself to just go for it because I know the person will appreciate it in the long run. That makes me feel good.
Interview and photography by Amanda Paul
Amanda Paul is Grand River Hospital's volunteer correspondent. Amanda has volunteered at GRH's Freeport and KW campuses for more than five years. She's passionate about telling the stories of her volunteer colleagues at the hospital.Learn more about Amanda and her role at GRH...