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Sisters Agnes Sie and Anna Liu began volunteering with Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels program as a way to give back during their retirement years, and to also to spend quality time together.

Get to Know Volunteers Agnes Sie & Anna Liu

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

Agnes: After I retired in 2016, I wanted to do volunteer work as a way to give back to and be part of the community in North York. I did some research on volunteering openings and I was prompted to join Circle of Care because of its long history, its association with Mount Sinai, and its history of serving the Jewish community. Volunteering at Circle of Care provides me with a bridge to the Jewish community in Toronto, helping me understand their culture and way of life, which are pivotal in shaping the Canadian society as it exists today.

Anna: I was introduced to Circle of Care by my sister Agnes. When I retired a little under two years ago, I realized that I had a lot of free time on my hands. The idea of volunteering once I retired was always at the front of my mind. Agnes kept sharing her experiences with volunteering for Circle of Care and as I did some research on my own, Circle of Care’s Meals on Wheels program caught my eye. I knew that volunteering with the program was something that I could do. Agnes owns a car but is not quite ready to drive long distances, while I don’t have a second car but am perfectly fine with driving. So the two of us decided to partner and volunteer to deliver meals together. I also enjoy the time spent with my sister in the car; I get to see her every week and catch up on what’s happening in our lives.

2) Is there a specific moment you recall while volunteering that made you feel like you made a real difference?

Anna: When I see smiles on the faces of our clients who come to the door to receive our delivery, and when I hear their words of gratitude, then I know that we’re making a difference.

Agnes: We’ve come to know the clients over the many weekly meal deliveries to their homes. I think that we especially make a difference in the winter days when snow and poor weather keep the elderly clients home bound, and we show up without fail with their meal orders at their doorsteps.

3) Has volunteering changed your outlook in any way?

Anna: Yes, volunteering has made me realized that there are people in our community who need our help. No matter how little the task is, we can still make a difference. I’ve learned to never underestimate the power that one -or two!- people can make.

Agnes: Volunteering makes me a more empathetic and compassionate person. I feel that I am part of a community that cares about the well being of others, and that is very uplifting. Volunteering with Circle of Care also gives me a window to a community that is outside my own cultural heritage, and I find the experience helps me to understand an important fabric that makes Canada what it is today.

4) What makes a good volunteer?

Agnes: In my view, a good volunteer is empathetic, has a pleasant personality, is aware that every touch point with clients (in big or small ways), and is a reflection of the organization that she represents. Having a client-centric mindset helps a volunteer guide her interactions with the clients (and clients’ families and caregivers).

Anna: I think a good volunteer is someone with a big heart, a cheerful personality, and a willingness to share their time.

5) What advice would you give to someone who is considering a volunteer position?

Agnes & Anna: Looking for a volunteer organization is like looking for a job. Research the population segments that you are interested in serving and then find organizations that serve those segments. It’s important to speak to friends or family who are currently volunteering, because they have a wealth of experience. Look for an organization that is of sound governance, with a great support structure that recognizes that its volunteers constitute a key building block to its capacity resources. And ensure that they are committed to providing training and learning opportunities to their volunteers.

6) What are your interests outside of volunteering?

Agnes: I enjoy learning and practicing Tai Chi, playing Ping Pong, and travelling.

Anna: In my spare time, I enjoy taking care of my indoor plants, doodling, and watching movies.

7) Do you have any words to live by?

Anna: Always be grateful and live everyday to the fullest.

Agnes: Be a lifelong learner, curious about what’s happening around you. Mother Earth and her inhabitants are fertile ground for exploration and inspiration. Be inspired!

8) What is the most recent book you read?

Agnes: The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks.

Anna: The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen.

9) Where is “home”?

Agnes: Toronto is now home. But it was Hong Kong before I moved back here three years ago. In today’s technology age, I also have a virtual home in the form of the Internet.

Anna: Home is where my family is!

10) Chocolate or vanilla?

Anna: Chocolate!

Agnes: Chocolate with coffee. But vanilla when it comes to ice cream time (which is not as frequent as I wish!)