Guest Column: Volunteers add meaning by sharing their time, talents

Mike Lapaine

According to William Shakespeare, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Mike Lapaine

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week from April 18 to 24, we pay special tribute to those in our community who have found their gifts and improve the wellbeing of others by giving of their time and talents.

For example, more than 500 volunteers provided more than 40,000 hours of dedicated service to Bluewater Health in our two hospitals each year prior to March 2020.

As a vital part of the healthcare team, their contributions range from greeting and wayfinding to assisting patients and staff, supporting our foundations, and serving on Bluewater Health’s Board of Directors.

Volunteers provide assistance at mealtimes by delivering meal trays, opening containers and encouraging food and beverage intake. ‘Patient Experience Partners’ work with Bluewater Health to influence policies and practices, to redesign care, and to educate people about what really creates an exemplary healthcare experience, so we can achieve our mission.

Volunteers with the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) and Friendly Visitors help improve the hospital experience for patients over 70.

The Bluewater Health Children’s Auxiliary organizes fundraising activities to benefit the Maternal Infant Child program, while the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital Auxiliary organizes fundraising activities and provides in-service care programs for patients in Petrolia.

Most of our volunteers haven’t been able to fulfill their role since the onset of the pandemic, but they remain in our thoughts.

It’s a rare community organization that doesn’t rely on the support of so many caring, selfless people, who give so much of themselves. In the most recent Statistics Canada data, almost 12.7 million Canadians – or 41% of those aged 15 or older – volunteered approximately 1.7 billion hours to not-for-profit and community organizations in 2018.

With all the options available to them, we’re proud that so many Sarnia-Lambton residents have chosen their community hospital – where they or their loved ones have worked or received care – in which to make an impact.

They are engaged and serve as ambassadors for the hospital in the broader community. In return, we are committed to providing them with meaningful opportunities to make a difference that match their skills and interests.

Volunteers contribute to the betterment of Sarnia-Lambton with passion, energy and dedication, and in the case of Bluewater Health, a focus on supporting our patients and families.

We miss our volunteers dearly and can’t wait to welcome them back when possible.

Mike Lapaine is the President & CEO of Bluewater Health