JGH volunteer proud to be one of the hospital’s “angels”
Outpouring of gratitude by patients and staff motivates volunteers to give of themselves
If you’re looking for one of the main reasons Rebecca Leroux is so keen on volunteering at the JGH, just glance at her distinctive turquoise jacket: On the right, over her heart, you’ll see a shiny, gold-coloured pin in the shape of angel—a small but significant gift from a grateful patient.
“It was given to me not long ago by an elderly gentleman whose name I never found out,” says Ms. Leroux, a 20-year-old student who has been donating her time to the Orthopedics Department since fall.
“He came up to the window where patients register and he had a handful of these angel pins that he distributed to those of us who were on duty at the time. I asked him why and he said, ‘Because it takes an angel to work in a hospital.’
“What a sweet thing to do! I was so touched. It made me realize the depth of the gratitude that people feel for the care that’s provided here.”
These warm feelings of thankfulness are also expressed toward volunteers by doctors, nurses and other members of staff who, Ms. Leroux says.
“When the surgeons are between operations, they might be tired or very busy, but they always find a moment to tell me how grateful they are for what I do. That’s what makes this such a beautiful environment to be part of.”
Ms. Leroux says she first looked into volunteering, because her long-term goal is to become a physician and she thought that helping out in a healthcare setting would complement her studies in health sciences at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf.
Often this involves carrying out secretarial duties, but Ms. Leroux also chats with patients before they register to make sure they’ve brought the necessary paperwork—especially important task if the patient is a recent immigrant or visitor to Quebec.
On average, this keeps her busy for three to four hours on one morning per week during the school year. However, when school is not in session, she’s happy to extend her workday to as long as six hours, and she sometimes takes one or two additional shifts per week.
Ms. Leroux’s enthusiasm for volunteering has also rubbed off on several of her classmates at Brébeuf, where she is president of a committee that supports the humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders.
As a result of the other students’ interest in her work, Ms. Leroux has invited Marko Obradovic, the CIUSSS’s Chief of Volunteer Services, to visit the school to explain how volunteering one’s time not only benefits patients and staff, but has a positive emotional and psychological effect on the volunteers themselves.
As a result, Mr. Obradovic says, several Brébeuf students have become volunteers, while others are staying in touch, with the intention of volunteering at a later date. Ms. Leroux is also hoping to work with her friends to organize a concert for the residents at Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare.
“Rebecca has created a wonderful bridge between her school and our hospital,” Mr. Obradovic adds. “We were eager to visit Brébeuf, because we want to attract a greater number of younger people. To do that, we look for opportunities to ask them what they’re looking for and what they hope to do, and then we try to provide it.”
Ms. Leroux calls her work “a humbling experience. It puts your life into perspective when you come to the hospital and see what other people are enduring and how you can help them get through it.
“It reminds you that you’re alive and healthy and doing well enough that you can easily give up some of your own time to make things a little easier for someone else. And when they tell you how grateful they are—well, it doesn’t get any better than that.”