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Get to know a Volunteer: Rick

Rick has been an active volunteer with Circle of Care since 2020. He volunteers with our Phone Pals program, providing regular weekly or daily telephone calls to isolated older adults. With a deep passion for giving back and community, Rick sits on many board committees, including the board of advisors for George Brown’s School of Finance and Accounting and the New Leaders of Sunnybrook Foundation, where he assisted in organizing fundraising events. He also sits on the board of the North York Baseball Association for youth baseball.

  1. What inspired you to begin volunteering for Circle of Care?

Like most people, I found myself working from home in the Spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began, with more free time on my hands. I remembered how my grandmother passed away during the SARS epidemic in Toronto, which occurred in February 2003. During that time, we weren’t allowed to visit her in the hospital and I knew how lonely she must have felt.

With that memory fresh in my mind combined with the extra time on my hands, I wanted to find a way to help people who were feeling socially isolated and needed somebody to talk to. I was talking to my sister in Vancouver one day and she mentioned how she was volunteering in a similar capacity and I thought it was a great idea. So a quick google search led me to Circle of Care and two years later, I’m still volunteering for this fantastic program.

  1. Has volunteering changed your outlook in any way?

Yes. My parents set a great example for me growing up as they both gave their time to various community organizations. They never demanded that their children volunteer in the community but rather, they modeled behaviour that I have certainly tried to emulate as an adult. I’ve made many lasting friendships over the years I’ve been working with various associations, so it has been just as much a positive experience for me as I hope it is for the people we’re helping. Getting involved and being busy isn’t just about others, it can also be personally fulfilling and rewarding.

  1. What’s the most positive impactful moment at Circle of Care that you remember?

As a member of the Phone Pals program, I was paired with a senior citizen who lives by herself. She and I have been speaking weekly now for over two years but we had never met in person because of the pandemic. Recently, she celebrated her 90th birthday with a Kiddush at Beth Emeth Synagogue. I was honoured to be invited and to share in that special milestone with her. It was quite a moment when we finally got to meet each other in person. It just really drives home the impact you can have on someone’s life.

  1. What’s one advice you would give to another volunteer or potential volunteer?

Don’t think too much about whether it’s something you think you’re suited for and would enjoy, just dive in. Everything might feel unusual at first and you may wonder if you’re the best person for the job but like with most things in life, you’ll settle into a rhythm and find your footing.

The best thing to do is look for something that suits your personality and talents. If you find learning about people’s lives and experiences interesting, even if you’re shy or introverted, Circle of Care can be a very fascinating, enjoyably experience.