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This year’s National Volunteer Week focused on the theme of “the value of one, the power of many.” The theme highlighted the value of compassion and caring that each person shows one another, and the power of people, organizations, and sectors working together.

This power of people was on display as Circle of Care held our annual Volunteer Appreciation Event. This year marked the second virtual event for our organization.

Circle of Care CEO Carey Lucki highlighted the tremendous effort and passion our volunteers have showcased during this difficult time.

“This year, many of you stepped up to help during the darkest of times when the need in our community was the greatest, and we can’t thank you enough,” she said to the 70 volunteers in attendance over ZOOM.

The event featured a discussion panel of Circle of Care volunteers, moderated by Iona Frost, Director of Programs at Volunteer Toronto.

Our volunteers spoke about the impact that giving back to the community has had, not only on our clients, but on themselves as well.

“My life feels like it’s extended every time I get to volunteer,” said Lindsey Cassel, Partnership Manager for Steam Whistle, and a Circle of Care volunteer with our Meals on Wheels program. “A lot of people forget that there are personal benefits to volunteering. It really improves my quality of life.”

With the pandemic limiting the connections that seniors can have with others, our volunteers and staff developed a new initiative called Compassionate Communities. Janet Chippin, Volunteer Coordinator for Circle of Care, brought this initiative to the organization to help better connect seniors virtually to the ones they love.

“I wanted to make a difference, especially during these times. In my opinion, it’s exponentially more important for us to be reaching out and seeing who is not connected, who is isolated and lonely, and how we can improve the quality of their life,” she said.

Along with the Compassionate Communities initiative, the Triple G program was also highlighted during the volunteer panel discussion.

The Triple G program provides a connecting touchpoint to isolated seniors in the community. Recently created by University of Toronto graduate students Matthew Goulbourne, Kayla Chow, and Nicole Moleschi, the program is a partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) and Circle of Care that matches existing BBBST pairs with seniors on our friendly visiting program waitlist. The program is called ‘Triple G’ because it connects three generations together.

As part of the volunteer panel, Matthew, Kayla and Nicole spoke about how they brought BBBST and Circle of Care together for the program. They are now involved as part of the working committee overseeing the project, and are also completing a research component on the impact of the program.

Overarching the entire event was the feeling of inspiration, innovation and dedication of our volunteers. Our volunteers have had to pivot their activities over the last year to meet the new restrictions brought about as a result of the pandemic, finding creative ways to strengthen connections with clients by phone and video, or masked at a distance. And they have done so admirably.

On our end, we have focused our efforts on ensuring that our volunteers were able to continue to provide care and support to our clients, while keeping everyone safe. We are incredibly grateful to all the volunteers who chose to continue volunteering, and we also extend warm wishes to our volunteers who are still waiting to come back at a time when they feel comfortable.

Our volunteer community is important, valued, and appreciated. Each of our volunteers demonstrates commitment and devotion, and we are incredibly grateful to each one of you. Thank you, and Happy Volunteer Week!

Circle of Care provides volunteer opportunities for adults and students in a variety of different programs. Currently, we are not accepting any new volunteers; however, we look forward to opening up our volunteer applications in summer 2021.