Get to Know a Volunteer: Rachel
With a passion for providing support and guidance to the younger generations, Rachel was a teacher for over 20 years and, for the past five years, the Head of an elementary school. Most recently, she worked closely with 360kids, an organization in York Region whose mission is to support youth in different ways.
Now, Rachel is turning her attention to a different generation. In her free time, she volunteers as a Friendly Visitor through Circle of Care. In this role, she has been paired with an older adult to whom she provides companionship and an empathic ear, and has gained a new friend in the process.
What inspired you to begin volunteering for Circle of Care?
Professionally, I work with children on a daily basis. I am inspired by their openness, curiosity, and intrinsic motivation. I learn and benefit from their innocence and willingness to experience new things and cultivate relationships with one another.
I thought about how I could take my own experiences with children and make a personal connection with others who might benefit from companionship. As I did some research, I came upon Circle of Care and read about all that this incredible organization does to support seniors in the community.
My older sister and younger brother are both involved in similar volunteer roles; the stories they share about their new friendships are inspirational. I feel so lucky to be a Friendly Visitor as each week I gain incredible insight and wisdom from my new friend.
Has volunteering changed your outlook in any way?
Absolutely! I have learned that everyone has a story to share. My new friend that I have met through Circle of Care enlightens me with wise anecdotes and reminders of what is truly important in life. Making connections with others is where you find true joy.
With life, you gain insight and experience. I can honestly say I look forward to my Sunday visits. When I leave, I am reminded about the importance of those little moments and the true meaning of belonging and love.
What do you look forward to as a Friendly Visitor, and why?
I most look forward to the smiles and laughs we share. We have moments of deep conversation and a few minutes later we are laughing about life’s ups and downs. We share our stories, beliefs, and have fun talking about what’s happening in the world in terms of current events. We also have found many commonalities and have cultivated a shared love of reading. I love reading together and then sharing our opinions about what we have read. We both listen and speak to each other openly and with great interest.
What’s one advice you would give to another volunteer or potential volunteer?
Go into the experience with an open heart and an open mind. You will definitely make a new friend and the meaning you derive from the relationship will be profound. I find myself thinking ahead to Sundays in anticipation of my next visit. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and the friendship we have cultivated in only a few short weeks.