June was Senior’s Month, so we wanted to shine a light on some of the amazing volunteers and participants we are privileged to work with in our Elder Mediation Services (EMS) Programs. This post was made possible by Bethany Chumbley, an EMS student who conducted the interviews.
Meet Florence*, a group participant within Elder Mediation Services (EMS). Florence has expressed that she enjoys attending the EMS Groups. Although there are four different groups currently being offered, Florence does not have a favourite one because she feels that all the groups are a great experience and that they deliver activities and information well, in a way that is appropriate for older adults. Florence has even described the effort put into the groups as being “amazing”. She also spoke to the fact that she feels welcome and included in the groups, enjoy hearing and listening to other participants, and feels like her ideas have been heard. Florence was asked which feelings and words she associates with the groups she attends and her answer was “interesting, challenges being presented, enjoyable, unexpected, supportive, a break in an everyday routine, well thought-out, and brightens your day.”
Florence appreciates how crafts have been one of many learning experiences. She is not very crafty but she still enjoys the experience and is grateful that supplies have been provided so that everyone can participate. Florence also enjoys the live presentation aspect of the various groups because it offers a different learning experience then just watching a movie or television show. Florence explained that she would encourage other older adults to try attending the various groups and said that overall “it’s been great!”
*Name has been changed
Meet Carol, a volunteer who has been with us for a year as a Peer Mentor within Elder Mediation Services (EMS). Her role involves having an hour-long conversations once each week with her older adult peer.
Carol has overall had a very positive and enjoyable experience as a Peer Mentor. Her biggest gain from volunteering has been having a wonderful peer, with whom she laughs with often, and being able to connect with others, especially during lockdown. Her favourite volunteer experiences have been enjoying conversations with her older adult peer and getting to know the other Peer Mentors, Wendy Meek (the EMS Coordinator), and the placement students at CJI. Some of the words Carol associates with her volunteer position are “caring, kindness, heartfelt, listening/listener, and empathetic.”
When asked if she has learned anything from volunteering, Carol says “Absolutely, I’ve learned a lot!” She feels as if she has been supported throughout her volunteer experience through the various trainings. She even expresses that “the training is the best thing” because it has taught her a variety of ways to respond to various issues that could arise with her peer or in her own life. Due to these trainings, Carol has not come up against any situation that she feels she has not been able to handle.
Volunteers like Carol are a critical part of the community, especially during the pandemic; they support, listen, and connect to these individuals with services/resources at a time like this, when they are needed most. We are reminded of the importance of Carol’s role not only throughout the pandemic, but also during the month of June as it is Seniors Month. Thank you, Carol, for all your time and effort!
Carol, EMS Volunteer