Guest post: Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre

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Our 12 Days for Good theme today is health; and as the post below makes clear, the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre is well positioned to discuss the role of volunteers in an organization committed to improving our health!

indexKitchener Downtown Community Health Centre (KDCHC) provides primary health care services: doctors, nurse practitioners, counsellors, dietitians and a foot care specialist. We focus on people who experience barriers to health care access and health inequities, meaning they suffer from preventable and unjust differences in health status. KDCHC’s services focus on medical care, health promotion, illness prevention and include the social determinants of health (e.g. safe housing, access to nutritious food, community belonging). We also have a range of programs that support community capacity building.

At KDCHC, volunteers play a key role in supporting the work we do.  We have a very diverse group of volunteers who represent the diverse people connected to KDCHC.  These include new immigrants, people who are homeless/homeless at risk; people with low incomes; isolated seniors; and youth at-risk.  Volunteers are receptionists on our main floor, they provide administrative support and they are involved in a broad range of peer support programs that recognizes the value of lived experience.

Volunteering creates a wonderful circle of giving, and often initiates unexpected new relationships.  Our volunteers give their skills and time to our organization, which creates a chance to meet new people, learn new things, become involved in their community, and have some fun. Consider a few recent experiences at KDCHC:

  • A volunteer sat beside an elderly woman in the waiting room on a very cold day. The waiting room was chilled by the constant opening of the entrance doors.  The volunteer slipped a coat around the woman’s shoulders and gave her a cup of tea.
  • A woman who had spent the last 14 years as a stay at home mom volunteered thinking she had little to offer her community. She rediscovered work skills, took on new responsibilities, and her confidence grew. She recently started a job as a customer service manager.
  • A new Canadian was able to lend her skills and medical knowledge to a program, creating a database and entering evaluation information.  This helped shape the direction of the program, assisting new moms throughout the community.  This volunteer is now taking the necessary steps to start practicing medicine here.
  • A new retiree was struggling with this life transition.  She was fighting depression and felt useless.  She started volunteering at KDCHC, made some new friends, and used skills from her career, and now volunteers at three organizations – including a role as Chair of a Board of Directors! She says she is so happily busy she has no idea how she found time to work.

Volunteer – help others, help yourself.

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