Below Linda Gisenya, an RMHCNA volunteer, describes her first volunteer shifts at RMHCNA:

On my first day I did a lot of cutting and laminating at the House when I was making nametags for staff and volunteers. The mechanical and systematic nature of the task was very enjoyable because I love tasks that give results right after you have finished them. Small things, like making nametags so that the families at the House can put a name to a face, are extremely important.

RMHCNA is a home for the families staying here. Nametags create a familiarity that makes the House an even more welcoming and warm place. Names are very powerful because they are core to our identities. Research has shown that there is no better sound to children ages zero and up than the sound of their name. Names are important.

Another interesting thing about my first day was hand sanitizing. There was a flu outbreak at a hospital, so we needed to keep everything clean and sanitized to minimize the spread of germs. There was hand sanitizer everywhere, and friendly reminders to help contain the outbreak. This reminds me of my days in the senior’s home, where we had to be very clean and careful, as most of the residents had very poor health. It’s great to see that at RMHCNA everyone cares for everyone else. We are so conscious that something as small as washing hands can impact a child’s life. It’s powerful.

On my second volunteer shift I was with the recreation team playing with the kids. I learned the rules around playtime, which are very similar to the rules at the library where I worked. My favourites are “go with the flow” and “clean up after yourself.”

First off, the lively and energetic Nea! We made different shapes out of playdough and had fun mixing the colours together, even if we weren’t supposed to. I got an early Valentine’s Day heart and the streaks of colour make it even more special. I spent some time with Alexander making a beautiful bracelet for his mother. We had some trouble finding the letter M in the big jar of beads, so we ended up using two Ns instead.

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching Scooby-Doo in the theatre room with the kids and the other girls on the recreation team. It was an adaptation of my favourite movie, The Phantom of the Opera, and I think I enjoyed it as much as the kids.

As we were watching the cartoon, Alexander’s dad came to give him his medication. This reminded me how illness is constantly present in the kids’ lives, but RMHCNA provides a safe and homey space for them to live their lives despite illnesses.

Volunteering at RMHCNA has been a very exciting and enriching experience so far.