From greeting patients to serving on our boards, the value of Sinai Health System's 2,063 volunteers is priceless. Their tireless work, energy and enthusiasm are instrumental to help us realize the best health and care. Last year alone, Sinai Health volunteers gave a total of 167,880 hours of their time.
As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we would like to share profiles from some of our volunteers across the system.
Iva Berlekovic, Volunteer
Iva has been a hospice volunteer with Circle of Care for over two years.
I wanted to work with populations that needed support most. I didn't actually consider doing hospice work but was suggested it.
The man I visit is 101 years old. He has some better days and then of course some real low-energy days. Sometimes we talk on his better days but other times I just sit beside him and I think that's enough. Just for someone in that age to know they have the presence of another human to look forward to.
When he is having a better day, he'll tell me stories about his life in Italy. I got matched with him because I also speak Italian.
He has two daughters who still make it a priority to visit him but I think it's different when a senior has someone not from the family to visit them. It's really hard on a family to see their loved one change under the effects of old age. They're use to a bubblier, energetic version of their loved one and they have to watch that fade.
Volunteering benefits me by giving me a sense of fulfillment, involvement...and there's so much emphasis on material goods in our society. This is something you can't pay for. You're offering your time and energy. But I think when we put our energies together, for nothing in return- that's a really strong thing.
Susan Jackson, Volunteer
Susan has been a Mount Sinai Hospital volunteer for five years, and volunteers her time three days a week at the information desk on the main floor, on the 4th floor and in the blood lab. Here are her reflections on being a volunteer.
When people say thank you to me for being a volunteer, I turn around and say thank you right back to them because my time volunteering really brings me so much joy and a sense of purpose.
I was a manager before I retired and was used to being busy. I went to my doctor's one day and he asked me what I was doing now. When I explained that I wasn't really doing anything - he wagged his finger at me and said 'shame on you!' The next day I contacted Mount Sinai to offer myself as a volunteer. Having had twin grandsons who spent 3 months in the NICU at Mount Sinai, my choice was obvious.
I have so many moments during my time as a volunteer that really stick out for me. There is a particular patient who comes to the blood lab every other week that I've become acquaintances with, and our friendship reminds me why I donate my time. Every time she sees me, she gives me a big hug and asks about my family and I do the same.
To anyone who is thinking about volunteering - we all have skills we could share and you can bring some much to your life and to others, by just giving a little bit of time. Giving back to the community could be the next stage of your life.
Marinda deBeer, Volunteer
Marinda has been a Bridgepoint volunteer since May 2015. She volunteers once a week as a friendly visitor on the palliative care unit.
I'm a birth and post-partum doula and that work has me thinking about transitions into and out of life. The idea of someone dying alone didn't seem right to me and so I was to drawn to volunteering and learning how to best be with those at the end of their lives, who might otherwise be alone.
I also work in theater and mentioned this to one of my colleagues at the Tarragon theatre and she connected me with her husband who is a physician on the palliative care unit at Bridgepoint. It was fate! Once I got here I knew it was the best place to be - for the patients and for me.
When I miss a week - I really feel it. I've come to realize that volunteering is the key to quality of life and I believe that I get more from the people I visit than they will ever get from me. They teach me how to live and be present.
Even though the people I see are on the palliative care unit, they want to talk about their lives and hear about what is happening on the outside world. Everyone has a story to tell and I'm just grateful that I get to be present to hear their stories.